PDT an Astronics Company: Product Design and Development Firm in Chicago, IL


Are Hyundai and Kia showing us that the traditional “family” design language, common amongst most auto manufacturers for ages, needs an evolution? In particular, the front fascia of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, while at times somewhat connected to each other, each have their own distinct character in terms of interpreting their language.

While some brands still maintain bold, common design elements throughout their lineup, it’s a refreshing change to see this design exploration really challenge what a “family” look and feel means today. I can see how a varied approach like this could better appeal to each distinct target demographic of a vehicle/type.

What path is your brand taking in terms of establishing a visual brand language?


Research & Design


The market for electric vehicles is currently on the rise as more companies are attempting to follow suit. Although EVs have been around for years, with notable names such as the Tesla Model S and Model 3, consumers have started to re-imagine their needs from electric. While sedans were always quite popular and often seen as luxurious, SUVs have begun to dominate.

Consumers want more spacious and family-oriented vehicles, and companies can be seen catering to that need as most of the new EVs at the Chicago Auto Show were SUVs. Most surprising was that fact that many of the electric vehicles displayed strikingly similar details. From being mid-size to their futuristic accents and tapered rears, many of the electric SUVs were indistinguishable.

What design language will brands implement into their
EVs to make them stand out in the current market?


Industrial Design



Compact trucks are attempting to make a comeback in the urban market. The Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Santa Fe are the latest to make a statement. The Maverick however has taken a unique spin on who this truck is for. The size is small but maximizes the space very well. The cargo area allows for a lot of different configurations that the owner can use.

The unique twist is that Ford wants its owners to “hack” and build parts (3D print or machine parts) to suit the owner. The truck is tailored for the “maker” persona. There are already many YouTube channels that are dedicated to this. I feel this is a response to the dynamic shift in the how we work and the need for a flexible adaptable truck.

What parts would you 3D print for your car?


Industrial Design


As fully electric vehicles and embedded sensors continue to rise in prominence, we can’t help but wonder, what happens to the gear heads and automotive tinkerers of the world? Will automotive hobbyists give way to hackers creating custom code for their car? Similarly, the right-to-repair debate continues and affects consumers ability to work on their cars, mainly focused on access to proprietary tools and software.

EV engines are also tucked away behind wheels, seemingly intentionally to prevent maintenance by non-dealership mechanics and consumers which makes us wonder, will automotive tinkering as a hobby continue?

Will proprietary engines, software, and sensors create a new type of automotive hobby?




Increasingly accessible technologies continue to be added into cabin interiors, thus altering the placement of gear shifts, power buttons, storage compartments, and other traditional control clusters. In only a couple of years, wireless charging has become nearly standard in new models and is placed anywhere from tucked underneath the front dashboard to being concealed vertically in the center armrest console.

Additionally, we are seeing new, physical cabin sensors and lenses that are part of autonomous driving and/or safety features. Thus far, we are seeing these manifest into blank protrusions off the steering column, presumably for a clear view of the driver’s eyes or body.

What emerging technologies or personal objects will continue to alter the physical layout of our future vehicles?


Industrial Design

© 2023 PDT, an Astronics Company | Privacy Policy

PDT is a trademark of Astronics Corporation

LinkedIn Twitter