Motor Trend Interviews Lucid’s Derek Jenkins On The Future Of Car Design

August 1, 2022

Motor Trend had an excellent podcast named The InEVitable and they just released an episode of their interview with Lucid Motors Head of Design, Derek Jenkins. Yes, the Lucid Air won MotorTrend’s 2022 Car of the Year and they spoke about that, but also about the design of the Lucid Air and the future of car design.

Here is the interview as posted on YouTube:

You can read the summary of the interview from Motor Trend over here. Here are my notes from listening to the interview. Note, they talk about his history in the auto space for the first 24 minutes or so and then get into Lucid around there.

Lucid reached out to him and he had dinner with Peter Rawlinson. Jenkins was impressed and felt Peter had a shot to make this work. Initially, they debated on sedan versus SUV vs pickup truck. And then they went forward with a sedan and they decided to go for the luxury sedan market. Blending the heart and mind of technology and styling was always super important to Lucid. 

They spoke about what cars go through to win the Motor Trends Car Of The Year, there is a lot of testing, it is super detailed and they “beat the cars up” they said but obviously not abusive to the cars.  Winning the award was really good timing, he implied but he also said in such a humble way, that you know your car is good but you just don’t know until you have an independent company test it. It said it was very validating and was a very proud moment since it was a lot of work to get there.

They spoke about the design and how the space concept and the fundamental size of the car were kind of pre-determined. Jenkins had a lot to work within that area and they wanted the Lucid Air to be something that was futuristic but also something that was comfortable for everyone without being too over the top. Jenkins added that they did look at the aircraft type of flow with the design for the car.   One thing they all noted was the car looks much better in person versus in still photography.  Derek Jenkins spoke about the importance of having functional design, not just design for designs purpose.

When will cars be futuristic where the steering wheel goes away? Autonomous driving does let you do a lot more in terms of changing the design in a big big way, he explained.  So much of vehicle design is legislated, they explained.  But if that goes away, what can you do with the design of these cars?

Jenkins explained how the car design evolution is where people will look back and say, remember when you needed the big grill and the loud cars to make a car fast and efficient? But you have these EVs that don’t need those things, so why bother?  Jenkins made an analogy about the phone, if you were given a mobile phone with physical buttons, you’d be confused and ask what is this design. Cars are going through this phase now, he said.

Lucid is obsessed with efficiency, which leads to fewer batteries, and improves the overall car design and operation. So they spoke toward the end about efficiency.  They also spoke a bit about the future and what he and Lucid is thinking about in the future, not just the Gravity, but other future thoughts in this space. They even went to the Oculus and virtual reality and how that might come to a car. So what is a dead end for the future car?  Is it flying cars?  Jenkins said that when it comes to screens in the car, there is just too much of it and there is screen overload and that will change over the years. But the long-term future is probably autonomy and it is a bit farther out than most expect. Jenkins guessed when we would see autonomous driving on some level saying the l attire half of this decade or so.