Autos of Interest: Would you say that’s comparable to the “SS” branding that, for a while there, was proliferated across the line, even on some models that maybe shouldn’t have had it. It seems Chevy’s kind of reined that in now and is very careful about which models it will put that on.

Parkinson: You know, that’s been a topic of a lot of real passionate discussion. We all feel — across the board, there isn’t a contrary voice on the team — that when we put an “SS” brand on our vehicles, it’s got to deliver. There are some vehicles that an “SS” just doesn’t belong on quite frankly. We’re always very, very careful. Mark Reuss is extremely passionate about it; that, if we do an “SS,” it’s got to make sense and the hardware has got to deliver.

Autos of Interest: On the topic, was there any internal debate over the sedan that’s titled, simply, “SS?” Debate over the name, I mean.

Parkinson: I think it was pretty straight forward. I don’t remember there being any debate. I think the discussions that happened were along the lines of: we have a vehicle that in every way embodies what “SS” wants to be, which led to the discussion of, then why don’t we just call it that. I actually wasn’t in this role when all those discussions happened but that was my impression from afar. At that time I was leading the design efforts in Asia and worked a lot from a distance with the team to execute the design of the vehicle. I think there is just a sound and strong belief that that vehicle delivered on the promise of what the “SS” was.

Autos of Interest: Chevrolet has had some big reveals lately and there are even more on the near horizon. What is it we can anticipate next from Chevy?

Parkinson: Well, it’s been a big year already, as you said. We’ve got Malibu, we just showed in New York, along with Spark. There are, um [Parkinson paused briefly], more to come and 2015 is going to be a very big year for Chevrolet. You probably heard that favorite phrase of people in the auto industry, “I cannot comment on future product plans.” [Parkinson teased with a short but sinister laugh.] But just take my word that 2015 is a big year for Chevrolet and we’re not going to be showing our complete hand right at the beginning of the year; there’s going to be something to talk about through most of the year.

Autos of Interest: Switching topics here but when the Corvette moved away from round taillights, was there debate about leaving the iconic shape behind? And, is there any concern that another company might pick them up?

Parkinson: I don’t recall there being a huge amount of debate. I think the big focus of the Corvette team — in total, from the Design team here led by Tom Peters, with Ed’s passion around what the C7 needed to be, to the engineering side of it and marketing, all the way through — everyone knew this had to be the best Corvette ever. And it had to live up to the standards that have been set by so many Corvettes in the past. To do that, we didn’t want the vehicle to come out and have people look at it and scratch there head and say, “Is that the new one or the previous one?” We wanted there to be no mistake in anyone’s mind that they were looking at the new and latest iteration of Corvette Stingray. The taillamps were a part of that; we looked at many options.

The way I look at it is, the C7 taillamps still have that influence of the round taillamps but it’s been evolved. We’ve clipped the top and bottom, and we’ve added depth and a strong, aggressive and powerful feel to the taillamp that were appropriate for where we wanted to take the Stingray.

There were so many people that, when they saw the two-dimensional photographs of the taillamps they — almost universally everybody I talked to — didn’t like them. They questioned them. And, without fail, there wasn’t one person that, when they saw the car in person, didn’t love the taillamps. When they could see the depth and the three dimensions of the lamps, every single one of them loved it. And that’s the fine line that we always have to walk with our designs. We have to push them far enough so that the initial response is, “Whoa dude, do I like that? I’m not sure.” Then when they see it in the flesh, in front of them, it grabs them and they’ve got to have it. I think that’s what happened with the C7 in total and the taillamps were a part of that.

I’m not worried that someone else is going to grab it. For Chevrolet, we want dual-element taillamps, that’s what we focus on. We don’t want to create too narrow a box. I don’t want to stand in front of you or anyone else in the press and say, “I know you don’t like it but that’s our brand character.” It’s got to be just drop-dead gorgeous and Tom and the guys delivered on that.


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