Enthusiasts Designer Genes: How Regulations Dictate the Look of New Cars

21:36  13 april  2018
21:36  13 april  2018 Source:   caranddriver.com

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We also spoke with Robert Lesnik, director of exterior design for Mercedes-Benz, and Christopher Chapman, senior chief designer for Hyundai Design North America, about the surprising specificity of rules dictating the look of your new car .

You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Designer Genes : How Regulations Dictate the Look Chapman, senior chief designer for Hyundai Design North America, about the surprising specificity of rules dictating the look of your new car .

a car parked in a parking lot: Designer Genes: How Regulations Dictate the Look of New Cars© Clifford Atiyeh Designer Genes: How Regulations Dictate the Look of New Cars

Car design is far from a purely aesthetic pursuit. In addition to accommodating all manner of engineering needs, designers must work within tight regulatory constraints. In our hyperregulated modern world, the government dictates nearly every aspect of car design, from the size and color of the exterior lighting elements to how sharp the creases stamped into sheetmetal can be. If a designer is lucky, those rules are the same in the United States and Europe. Often, though, they’re not, leading to designs that adhere to the stricter stipulations of the two rulebooks. Because, as Joe Grace, head of concepts and innovation at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, notes, if a vehicle isn’t designed from the outset with both markets in mind, “even changing the plastic pieces can be expensive.” We also spoke with Robert Lesnik, director of exterior design for Mercedes-Benz, and Christopher Chapman, senior chief designer for Hyundai Design North America, about the surprising specificity of rules dictating the look of your new car.

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a close up of a device: 1. Sheetmetal Edges© Provided by Car and Driver 1. Sheetmetal Edges

1. Sheetmetal Edges

Most pedestrians have no clue how much they’ve affected car design. European regulations attempting to cushion a person’s impact with a moving car have led to taller hoods, which provide for more space between the head of a struck pedestrian and any hard engine component. Hyundai’s Chapman says that means the design of a car is “set up” at the base of its A-pillar, with shoulderlines rising and greenhouses slimming from there.

There are even regulations regarding the creases in sheetmetal. As Mercedes-Benz’s Lesnik explains: “Everything that could hit a theoretical body or head has to be soft.” Any sharp exterior line is an illusion made possible by talented designers and precision manufacturing processes. EU law dictates a minimum 0.2-inch radius for all edges on the front and rear fascias, with a sharper 0.1-inch radius allowed for all other exposed body panels. Even grilles and badges—basically everything above the doorsills—must have blunted edges. But brush bars, protruding tow hooks, and front fenders that expose parts of the front tires, like those on the new Jeep Wrangler, are welcome in America. (In Europe, a different front bumper fills that gap on the Wrangler.)

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a close up of a logo: 2. Rear Bodywork© Provided by Car and Driver 2. Rear Bodywork

2. Rear Bodywork

Designers also like to pull in the bodywork aft of the rear wheel-well cutouts to show off a little tire tread—the sports-car equivalent of a plunging neckline. But European regulations dictate that fenders must cover the entire tread width as measured from 30 degrees forward of the tire’s top center to 50 degrees rearward. Black plastic fins like those you’ll find on the Jaguar F-type allow stylists to create that provocative view while still adhering to the letter of the law.

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3. Taillights© Provided by Car and Driver 3. Taillights

3. Taillights

The McLaren P1’s arcing taillights can’t get much thinner. U.S. law requires a minimum of 7.8 square inches of illuminated surface area per brake light, 1.9 square inches of which must be visible 45 degrees off the car’s center and 15 degrees below the taillight’s horizontal centerline.

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a close up of a device: 4. Turn Signals© Provided by Car and Driver 4. Turn Signals

4. Turn Signals

U.S. regs allow automakers to use the same element as both taillight and turn signal. In Europe, the turn signals have to be separate and amber in color. Some designers suspect the U.S. will soon follow suit, a development that FCA’s Grace tells us he’d champion. And he’s already preparing for the change, as the 2019 Ram 1500 sports amber turn signals.

Audi’s sequential signals illuminate too small an area when they first fire up, so in the U.S., they’re combined with a standard turn signal. Each turn-signal lamp (or bank of LEDs) must cover at least 3.4 square inches.

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5. Marker Lights© Provided by Car and Driver 5. Marker Lights

5. Marker Lights

The U.S. requires all vehicles to have marker lights—amber lights mounted to the front fenders or integrated into the sides of headlight housings and red lights on the rear fenders. Europe doesn’t mandate markers for any car less than 19.7 feet long but does require redundant turn signals be installed along the sides of the vehicle.

a car on a grill: 6. Auxiliary Lighting© Provided by Car and Driver 6. Auxiliary Lighting

6. Auxiliary Lighting

The Ford Raptor and Ram Power Wagon look extra beastly with their semi-truck running lights. U.S. law requires any brute more than 80 inches wide to wear five amber lights, either on the roof or in the grille.

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