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Ferlazzo tames Commodore's LEDs
Holden designer’s cherished Commodore Sportwagon gets new take on LED tail-lights
14 Sep 2015
By IAN PORTER
HOLDEN has moved away from the current trend of using LEDs splashed across tail-lights in random arrays in a bid to achieve its own a unique signature for the VF Series II Commodore Sportwagon, according to the company's design chief.
Speaking with GoAuto at the reveal of the VF Sereis II Commodore range on the weekend, GM Australia design director Richard Ferlazzo said he did not want to lose the low-energy benefits of LEDs, so he created a design that produces a soft glow rather than the hot spots usually associated with these lamps.
“To me, most LED lamps look like festooning lights in a fast-food diner,” he said. “I didn’t want the hot spots, I wanted a nice glow.
“So we have an array of multiple LEDs and then, over that, there is a milky white lens, and that’s under the red outer layer.
“It gives a nice soft homogenous diffused light, so from the back it is a clean light signature.”
Mr Ferlazzo said the design team went against trend with the brake lights as well.
“There is a little lens in the stop light to diffuse the light from the globe.
Some people like exposed globes. I like to disguise it, it’s more refined.
“I like the clean sophisticated look,” he said.
This is, perhaps, not surprising coming from the man who penned the striking and elegant lines on the acclaimed 2005 Efijy show car.
Mr Ferlazzo also managed to break down the hot-spot effect when it came to the daytime running lights on the front of the Series II sedans and wagons.
Although there is no lens covering the LEDs, they are spaced very close together to give the illusion of a single strip of light.
“They’re so bright they tend to blend in together. They need to be bright because they are on during the day,” he said.
“And they need to be high intensity. It just reads as a bright glowing band.”
The extra care he took with the Sportwagon tail-lights reflects his affection for the model, which he drives every day in Calais V spec.
He believes private buyers are missing out on a useful load carrier because of the fashion to drive SUVs.
But he said several larger fleet operators have recognised the benefits of the Sportwagon over SUVs.
“Two big national fleets have come back. They tend to bounce around, but they are driving Sportwagons again.
“So, fleets in particular like floor space, and the floor area of a Sportwagon is much better than an SUV.”
Mr Ferlazzo said SUVs get their interior capacity from having a high roof. But he maintains many SUV drivers cannot take advantage of the height because they only load them up to the windows. Any higher and they would lose vision out the windows.
“What you get out of a car like this is long bed-length. From the back of the front seat to the tailgate on a Sportwagon is two metres.
“You can sleep in the back of this thing whereas, with SUVs, because of their compact proportions, they are shorter and taller.”
Mr Ferlazzo also pointed out that, not only does the Sportwagon have a lower loading height, but it also offers other loading and space advantages.
“Because I introduced a sloping roof on the Sportwagon to make it look sporty, I pushed the hinge point (of the rear hatch) forward into the roof panel.
“It gives several benefits, actually. One is you can lean right in because the roof does not reach out to the rear fascia.”
Another advantage of the forward hinge point is that it delivers a large aperture, making it easier to load bulky items.
“A third advantage is that it opens very vertically, so you can stand closer than with a vertical hatch door because they have to swing out through their whole radius. That means, with an SUV, you can’t park close to another vehicle if you want to open the hatch.”
However, Mr Ferlazzo said GMH had to take note of the fact that buyers were preferring SUVs.
“People are buying SUVs which are much less spacious than this. They’re just tall.
If that is the case, they are sending us a message.
“We have got to find the sweet spot between form and function.”
Mr Ferlazzo said the design department looked at incorporating a foot-operated automatic opening of the Sportwagon tailgate but decided against it.
“We did look at foot operation but it drives extra cost and mass in there with the motors to open and close. Seriously, is it that hard just to close it.”
The Sportwagon does, however, have some technology so that the hatch does not have to be heaved hard to shut it.
“We have a cinching latch so you don’t have to slam it.”
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