California Autos Examiner

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Clay Dean: You'll See That In Alpha

I had a nice chat with Clay Dean, Global Design Director for Cadillac. I'll cover more of the interview later, but there was one item that really stood out for me. Clay was giving me an overview of the Converj concept's interior and was focusing on controls that feature configurability, capacitive touch screens and haptic feedback. As you know, many designers are in love the with iPod/iPhone and they are itching to integrate that kind of slick look and functionality into instrument panel designs. As we were talking about the capabilities of the system, Clay mentioned "You'll see this on Alpha." I had asked him earlier about the Alpha platform and when we might be seeing something from Cadillac. While Mr. Dean wasn't going to part with any confidential information, he did say that next year's auto show circuit would probably be a good one for Alpha watching.

The Alpha project is of keen interest because it will be a smaller, sporty entry slotting in beneath the CTS. Details to date have been slim. Perhaps you recall when I asked Bob Lutz about Alpha last year at the Detroit show and he responded by saying that it was way too soon to be talking about it. It is great to hear that Cadillac is going to be doing some trick things, some of which is foreshadowed in Converj's interior, on the Alpha vehicle.

I'm not sure where other manufacturers are on this, but certainly vehicles like the Volt and Converj are showing that the iPod-ization of the interior is upon us. Notice that even the steering wheel features these types of controls. Certainly there is a wow factor here, always a plus, but this is also more than a a/c vents motoring open or a transmission selector rising out of a dash, these controls allow you to further customize the interior of your car. You control your music the way you like it, why noti have the same flexibility in your luxury ride?

I also asked Mr. Dean if the Converj hinted at the Alpha in terms of exterior styling. His response was pretty much a resounding no. The mission of both cars is quite different, so folks shouldn't infer too much about the Alpha project when looking at the Converj. Mr. Dean did let it slip that in terms of size, the Converj and Alpha are somewhat similar, but that's where it ends.

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