California Autos Examiner

Monday, August 18, 2008

Creed Leaves, Gilles Flowers

That's kind of a frilly headline (leaves and flowers), but I've been caffeine addled all day so that's just how it's going to be. Twenty three year veteran of design, Trevor Creed will be leaving Chrysler to be succeeded by Ralph Gilles. Whether or not Creed was pushed or if he jumped, there will be speculation about his departure. With another high profile executive gone, is this a continuing shakeup of management at Chrysler or just natural selection? Could Charles Widmore be involved somehow? If I had a can of Red Bull and more time on my hands, I might be willing to give my opinion on this one, but all I have is a bowl of cereal...for dinner.

Okay, enough about me. Major props to Ralph Gilles for his rise to fame at Chrysler. Gilles' latest project, the 2009 Dodge Ram, is a winner in my book. I'll overlook any association he had with the ho-hum minivan redesign.

It is a tremendous achievement to reach such heights and the fact that Ralph Gilles and Ed Welburn of GM, both black men, have garnered the top design spot within their respective companies will truly serve as an inspiration to many young designers out there. I have not read much about Gilles' management style, but he certainly will be sailing through uncharted waters. For example, how many vehicles will Chrysler be designing from the ground up verses placing a new "top hat" on another vehicle manufacturer's platform remains to be seen. Will Chrysler's owners be willing to stomach styling risks or will they force designers to a play more conservative hand?

If you'd like to know more about Trevor Creed and his history at Chrysler, you can click here and to read Ralph Gilles' biography click here. Chrysler's official announcement you can be found here. To catch a short video interview with Ralph Gilles by John McElroy of Autoline Detroit, click here. In this interview, I do disagree Gilles' statement that people rarely touch the top of the instrument panel. Soft touch dash materials makes a big difference to me, even the top of the dash. I don't know why, it just bugs me when it's hard plastic--no matter how well it is grained.

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