Whether in person at an auto show or splashed on the pages of the latest edition of a car magazine, the unveiling of a new vehicle model is one of the most exciting parts of the automotive industry. Yet there’s a lot more to the intricate process behind designing a new vehicle. Earlier this year, I was fortunate to visit with Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota Motor Corporation’s North American design studio, Calty Design Research, and talk about the process of designing a new car.

Under Kevin’s leadership, Calty designed the new Lexus LC 500, which I have been driving recently, so we spent much of our conversation talking about the creativity, innovation, and safety considerations that went into making that vehicle a reality. Based on our conversation, we put together a video showcasing how the design process came to life, which I highly encourage you to check out.

If there’s one takeaway from my conversation with Kevin, it’s that innovation is flourishing in every aspect of the automotive industry—that’s especially true in the automotive design world. Vehicle design has always been a creative task. Designers like Kevin are constantly looking for inspiration, and can find it anywhere – in nature, in fashion, and even in personal experience. This inspiration guides not only the styling of a car and its look, but also the feeling of being inside and driving it. Everything from the way the gear shift feels in your hand to the actual sound of the car is important to that process. 

However, the design process also stays nimble as emerging technologies are embraced and incorporated into our transportation future. Vehicle design plays a major role in consumers’ acceptance of new technologies like electric vehicles. As features like sensors and cameras become even more commonplace, designers must effectively incorporate them while preserving the overall aesthetic of a vehicle.

And, beyond aesthetics, designers are constantly considering how design can improve the safety of everyone on the road, including pedestrians. From headlights to the shape of the vehicle’s hood, design is integral to ensuring our vehicles are as safe as possible when deployed to our streets.  

Design has always been an integral part of the automotive industry. As technology, connectivity, and consumer demands continue to rapidly change, vehicle designers are directly involved in shaping our cleaner, safer, and smarter transportation future for the better. And, like the LC 500, we are experiencing some of the most exciting vehicles we have ever seen in the process.