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Old 07-20-2004, 05:50   #1 (permalink)
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Aston Martin designer's goal is to avoid distracting gadgets

Aston Martin designer's goal is to avoid distracting gadgets

By MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News

LOS ANGELES -- Aston Martin will avoid electronic gadgets that insulate owners from the driving experience, says Henrik Fisker, chief designer for Aston Martin.

Electronics such as BMW's iDrive and an over-reliance on traction control systems have taken the joy out of driving, he told the Motor Press Guild here last month.

Fisker also blasted some automakers for using so much protective plastic and coatings on interior wood and leather "that you can't tell if it is real or fake."

Fisker said he is amazed people will pay top-dollar for high-end stainless steel fixtures in their kitchens but settle for cheap plastic knobs in their luxury cars.

"We don't want just injection-molded plastic with graphics and a chrome ring around it," Fisker said. "Anyone can do that for two dollars. Even Hyundai does it."

Instead, Aston Martin will use personal craftsmanship to assemble crucial interior elements, such as the seats. While that may mean more irregular stitching compared with a robot-assembled piece, Fisker compared it to a high-end handbag, for which people pay more for a handcrafted item.

As for the leather, Fisker wants to use more supple textures with less plastic protection. That means the seats will wear to the occupants' contours, like a good pair of shoes. But that also means, "If you spill ice cream on the seat, you can't wait two days to clean it off, because it will stain," Fisker said.

Similarly, Fisker said, "Our wood will age with the car, because real wood ages."

In examining the invasion of electronic gadgetry into luxury cars, Fisker said: "What do people expect from a car? We don't want to drive and send an e-mail at the same time. We need to focus on what enhances the driving experience. It should feel like an occasion. The car should drive perfectly without electronics."

Fisker added that Aston Martin would have electronic features where appropriate, such as backup warning sensors.

When asked why Aston Martins loaded with gadgetry are driven in James Bond movies, Fisker curtly replied, "We don't build cars for James Bond. He picks them and decides to put gadgets in them."
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