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Shanghai show: Haval’s future ‘Vision’

Vision 2025 concept marks new direction for Haval with ex-Landie design guru at helm

Haval logo23 Apr 2019

By ROBBIE WALLIS in SHANGHAI

CHINESE SUV specialist Haval has launched a new era of design for its future models with the Vision 2025 concept unveiled at the Shanghai motor show last week, marking the first vehicle designed under former Land Rover and Ford stalwart Phil Simmons.
 
Mr Simmons joined Haval as design director and vice-president in August 2018 after 20 years in the design department at Land Rover, where he left an indelible mark on the British SUV brand that included sculpting the L322 Range Rover and more recently contributing significantly to the Range Rover Sport, Discovery Sport, Velar, Evoque and even the still-secret all-new Defender.
 
Now the Vision 2025 concept has emerged under his watch at Haval, ushering in an evolutionary design for the Chinese SUV brand, which is a subsidiary of Great Wall Motors.
 
Mr Simmons had previously overseen the updated versions of the F7 and F7x medium SUVs, which built on the design language of the pre-facelift versions.
 
He said the Vision 2025 is not just a design study that will be discarded, but will rather inform the styling direction for future Haval production models.
 
“I hope it gives an example of what you can expect in general,” he said. “We will attempt to execute as much of this inspirational DNA as we can.
 
“Certainly we don’t set out with an intention to show what we could do and then do something completely different.
 
“I’ve always believed that if you do a show car, there should be some kind of intent to deliver that car eventually.
 
“So it is a statement of intent, and the whole design team will push to get as much of this new DNA into the next-generation vehicles as we can.”
 
The Vision 2025 features slim semi-hexagonal LED headlights, a filled-in colour-matched grille suggesting an alternative powertrain, muscular outer and lower front bumper finishes and large alloy wheels with short overhangs.
 
One of several highly sought-after automotive designers to be poached by Chinese brands in recent years, Mr Simmons said it was an exciting time for design in the country with a wealth of both local and international talent.
 
“In terms of the talent in China, yes, that is really accelerating at quite a rate,” he said.
 
“We’ll probably look back in maybe 10 years’ time and wonder why we ever had any doubt that China was going to be right at the top of the industry.
 
“We have a very young team, but they’re so keen, so enthusiastic to learn, they learn very quickly, and it will be a real advantage going forward.”
 
Coming from Land Rover, which had a very regimented approach to vehicle design, Mr Simmons said the opportunity to work for Haval was an exciting one due to greater freedom afforded by Haval’s design processes.
 
He added that the legacy left by previous design chief Pierre Leclercq left the brand in good stead with its expressive and powerful design language, and that he did not feel the need to change the direction entirely but would build on and evolve the existing styling cues.
 
In creating the Vision 2025, Mr Simmons said he started like he does with all other clean-sheet designs, which is sketching a desirable side profile, which helps give the vehicle scale and informs the styling of the rest of the vehicle.
 
“Personally, (a brand-new design) always starts with a side view – probably the front fender,” he said. “Vision 2025 is no different, actually it started as a drop-dead gorgeous side view.
 
“With a side view you can really define the overall proportions, the character of the vehicle, how it sits in relation to large SUVs, smaller SUVs – you can really define those proportions.
 
“And once you’ve got a great-looking side view, it gives you a fantastic foundation for bringing the front and rear design in to a full, three-dimensional development.”
 
When designing a new vehicle, Mr Simmons said one of the areas he gets greatest satisfaction out of is improving aerodynamics, which is often a win-win situation as aerodynamic improvements can result in exciting and cutting-edge designs.
 
He acknowledged that occasionally the pursuit of greater aerodynamics can lead to ungainly styling elements, but in general it is a positive aspect for the design team.
 
“Personally I get a lot of satisfaction from improving the aerodynamics,” he said. “The aerodynamicists talk in terms of counts, 0.01 (Cd) improvement is a count, and each one of those is a very precious thing so I get a lot of satisfaction from improving that side of things.”
 
With the advent of autonomous technology and more sophisticated infotainment systems, Mr Simmons said the designer’s role has expanded from solely creating beautiful designs to now integrating all sorts of advanced systems into the car while still keeping the vehicle aesthetically pleasing.
 
The first Haval model designed by Mr Simmons to hit Australian shores will likely be the all-new H9, slated for release around 2021.

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