Holden Car Designers Taking on International Roles
Local designers from Holden Design have played a key role in the styling and development of GM’s global mid-size vehicle, the Holden Malibu.
Overseen by General Motors International Operations Executive Director, Design, Michael Simcoe while he was responsible for Chevrolet Design, the Malibu was heavily influenced by two of Holden’s own design staff while on international assignment in the USA.
Justin Thompson (pictured above), Exterior Design Manager and Yan Huang, Interior Design Manager were responsible for the exterior and interior styling of Malibu, a car that is sold in almost 100 countries around the world.
Sold as a Chevrolet Malibu in countries outside of Australia and New Zealand, its styling was inspired by Chevrolets of the past, including the Camaro which was also styled by the Holden Design team.
Justin Thompson said the brief for Malibu was to create a car that would stand out in a busy and often bland mid-size segment.
“Medium cars are often criticised for being bland and middle-of-the-road. With Malibu, we wanted to design a car that would stand out from the pack.
“We looked to Chevrolet’s heritage to inspire us for the future and the result is a sporty family sedan that has a lean muscularity and athletic stance.” He said.
Malibu was designed first and foremost to be a Chevrolet vehicle but a Holden version was always in Justin’s mind.
“It’s critical when designing a car for the globe that it will work in multiple markets. As GM has moved to global products, Holden and Chevrolet have shared design themes. The result is a car that looks at home on roads in major cities around the world.”
Most recently Justin Thompson was Exterior Lead Designer for the VF Commodore and says Malibu shares some design highlights with the new locally manufactured large car.
“There are also some fairly deliberate similarities between Malibu and the new VF Commodore. The rear end of Malibu was actually the first iteration of VF styling as we began to work on the VE replacement in the late 2000s. We also ensured that the unique front fascia for the Holden version fitted with the broader portfolio,” Said Justin.
“Having worked on the Malibu several years ago, it’s great to finally see it on Australian roads.”
Yan Huang currently works as a design manager on interiors for GM’s global advanced vehicles. While in the US, she led the interior styling for Malibu.
“The design intent for Malibu’s interior was sporty, sophisticated and easy to live with. The result is a simple, uncluttered interior with plenty of clever storage options,” she said
“The car’s dashboard and instrument panel features flowing horizontal lines from door to door, to make the interior appear wide and create a sense of spaciousness. A chrome bar leads the eye to displays and controls and is supported by soft blue ambient lighting that brings the cockpit to life during night driving.”
Malibu is the first car in the Holden portfolio to include a hidden storage bin behind the seven-inch touch-screen and a one-litre bottle can be stored in each of the four doors. A pocket on the side console houses a mobile phone while charging and dual cup holders feature in both the console and rear seat armrest.
“The use of materials also plays an important role in delivering an interior with a premium feel. There are plenty of jewel-like details, like the chrome bar across the instrument panel and highlights on the controls and our fabrics include deep animal grain and contrast colour stitching,” Said Yan Huang.
“Malibu is the fourth Holden car to feature the MyLink entertainment system and integrating new technology into cars is a key focus area for interior designers.
“In the Malibu, MyLink centres around a large seven-inch colour touch-screen which is standard in all models. All controls have been designed to be intuitive and easy to use and the system needs to fit within the overall concept of the interior.
“The large touch screen works well with Malibu’s Camaro inspired gauges to create a sporty, premium feel. The result is a great success.”
Justin Thompson, Age 37
PATAC Australia Exterior Design Manager, Shanghai GM China future models
- 1994- 1998 Bachelor of Technology (Industrial Design) Monash University
- 1997 Semester 5 Chiba University, Chiba Japan
- 1999 Commenced work at Holden Australia
- 1999-2002 Monaro, VY Commodore Exterior Design
- 2002 -2004 Holden WM Exterior Lead Designer
- 2005 Buick LaCrosse theming PATAC Studio China (7 Months)
- 2006-2009 General Motors North America 3 year ISP at Warren Michigan Design Studios USA
- 2008 Buick Invicta Concept Car Lead Designer
- Buick LaCrosse Lead Designer
- Chevrolet/ Holden Malibu Lead Designer
- 2009-2012 MY14 VF Exterior Lead Designer
Yan-hong Huang (Yan), Age 45, Born in Xiamen China
Interior Design Manager, Advanced global products
- 1985-1988 Xiamen University(BA-Fine Art),
- 1990-1994 RMIT university(BA-Industrial Design)
- 1994 Daewoo Matiz concept car
- 1997 aXcess Australia concept car (Australia)
- 1998 China Qiling show car (China),
- 2002 Buick Centieme show car interior (Italy),
- 2003 Buick Lucerne Interior (USA),
- 2004 Buick Park Avenue Interior (Australia),
- 2012 Malibu interior (USA),
Countries worked in – USA, Italy, China, Australia.