Message from Seiji Watanabe: Successor of Mitsubishi Motors Design
My design will continue what Mitsubishi Motors has cultivated – dynamic strength, reliability, toughness, the ability to increase user confidence and invite them to take one step further.
In retrospect, we have been infusing new values into our products in each era. In 1917, we manufactured the first mass-produced passenger car in Japan – the Mitsubishi Model A. In the 1960s and the 1970s, we introduced innovative cars such as the Colt series, the Galant and the Lancer. We also marketed the Pajero as a rugged cross country 4WD vehicle which could be used as an urban SUV. In 2009, we introduced the world’s first mass-produced electric vehicle, the i-MiEV which demonstrated the innovative technology and design. As a leader in PHEV and 4WD technology, the Outlander PHEV continues to evolve with a tough and robust design. Mitsubishi Motors has now become a brand that inspires drivers to take on any adventure with passion and is recognized by professionals for its functionality.
I drive the Mitsubishi Jeep J36 manufactured in the 1980s. Every time I drive it, I have a strong sense to protect the roots of Mitsubishi DNA.
Design will continue to evolve with the times, and we will take on the challenge to give customers excitement and trust, using the design strategies that respect the uniqueness of Mitsubishi Motors.
Evolution of Mitsubishi design
While continuing the Mitsubishi design strategy, we will pursue a simple (that conveys the design message directly), generous (that makes you feel spacious) and athletic (that excites our nerves from the appearance) design. Our design will express the clarity and beauty of the surface, that you can feel generosity and richness from the car.
We will keep pace with the diversification of consumer preferences, and reflect this in our design. We will challenge ourselves to design a car that clearly differs from other companies and exceeds customers’ expectations.
In addition, electrification and autonomous driving technology will significantly change the design of cars in the future.
In particular, the ways in which vehicles are used and their values will change significantly due to autonomous driving technology, and the importance of UX/UI will increase immensely to improve the user’s experience. I want to consider from various perspectives how people spend their time in cars, then create a design that feels like Mitsubishi.
Based on this idea, we will continue to develop attractive designs that are recognized around the world, and promote a brand that gives customers excitement and trust.
Seiji Watanabe Heads Mitsubishi Motors Design Division
An interview about where he draws inspiration and a new design vision for Mitsubishi Motors
Seiji Watanabe was named Corporate Officer and Division General Manager of Design for Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in April 2020. With over 30 years of automotive design experience, he will lead the global design teams to shape and refine the identity of Mitsubishi Motors rooted in its brand, Drive your Ambition.
- What interests you most about design?
I want to enrich people’s lives through automobiles. I believe that automobiles change the scenery of cities.
- What challenges you most about automotive design?
Automobile is an act of movement, a moving space, and a tool that reflects yourself. Because automotive design is one of the most exciting aspects of industrial design, I want to enrich people’s life through design by focusing on the tools.
- What advice do you have for aspiring automotive designers?
Design is not about designing shapes but about designing a new life. It is important to feel and grasp different values through your own experience, and to express those values through shapes. The basic technique is sketching, and it is important to be able to expand the scope of ideas.
- What motivates you?
Creating an existence from “nothing.” I want to surprise people with monozukuri that is pure. The inspiration is “a trick like a playful heart.”
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Car racer, manga creator, artist
- What industries outside of automotive design inspire you?
Architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright)
- How do you prefer to spend your free time? Are you an artist?
I prefer spending my time in nature or creating something.
- Where do you see Mitsubishi Motors standing out among the next generation of electric, connected, shared and/or autonomous vehicles?
Electrification and new experiences through autonomous driving scenes.
- How will you express the Design strategy Kunimoto-san initiated and led since 2014? Could you give us some details?
While respecting and continuing the Mitsubishi Motors’ design and heritage, we will pursue a simple (that conveys the design message directly), generous (that makes you feel spacious) and athletic (that excites our nerves from the appearance) design. Our design will express the clarity and beauty of the surface, that you can feel generosity and richness from the car.
About MITSUBISHI MOTORS
MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORPORATION is a global automobile company based in Tokyo, Japan, which has a competitive edge in SUVs and pickup trucks, electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Since the Mitsubishi group produced its first car more than a century ago, we have demonstrated an ambitious and often disruptive approach, developing new vehicle genres and pioneering cutting-edge technologies. Deeply rooted in MITSUBISHI MOTORS’ DNA, our brand strategy will appeal to ambitious drivers, willing to challenge conventional wisdom and ready to embrace change.
Consistent with this mindset, MITSUBISHI MOTORS introduced its new brand strategy in 2017, expressed in its “Drive your Ambition” tagline – a combination of personal drive and forward attitude, and a reflection of the constant dialogue between the brand and its customers. Today MITSUBISHI MOTORS is committed to continuous investment in innovative new technologies, attractive design and product development, bringing exciting and authentic new vehicles to customers around the world.