Alexey Andreev won the 2017 SAIC Design Challenge Europe with his with his MG E-Spirit concept

SAIC Design Challenge Asks Students to Harness ‘Spirit of MG’

Do you dream of becoming a car designer? Are you currently enrolled in a design university? Do you want to see your work built to scale? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you should consider entering the SAIC Design Challenge.

Now in its sixth year, the SAIC Design Challenge has been instrumental in launching the careers of many aspiring automotive designers. A previous competition winner — now working at the SAIC Technical Center in the UK — had his exterior sketch chosen and developed into a new concept that will launch at the Beijing auto show next month.

Following the success of the China-based competition, the SAIC Design Challenge has also spun off to feature a European component, which is now in its second year. Organized by SAIC’s European design studio near Birmingham, the Challenge is sponsored by MG Motor UK and supported by academic partner Coventry University, but it is open to all students currently studying design at any university in Europe.

This year’s brief — entitled ‘Sprit of MG’ — is to design a future MG flagship vehicle for the year 2025, taking into account the brand’s history of creating attainable performance cars for the enthusiast. Entrants can choose to design any vehicle typology they wish; the only stipulation is that it can’t be a supercar or racecar.

“The design should represent the sporting DNA of the MG brand,” SAIC’s European design director, Carl Gotham, said at the competition launch in Coventry this week. “[Students should] do [their] homework — find out what was the spirit of MG, what captures the image of the brand and the imagination — but it should also be relatable.”

The brief was intentionally left vague to give students the creative freedom to explore the future. As the auto industry rapidly evolves, an electric performance vehicle may look and function differently than the typical performance car of today.

“I would encourage [students] to do something that will surprise us,” Gotham added.

How to Enter the SAIC Design Challenge

Candidates should register their interest in entering by email to [email protected], providing their personal information. This will enable SAIC to keep applicants up-to-date on the competition during the submission phase.

1. Submit at least two A3 images showing your concept proposal (JPEG format and resolution ratio greater than 300dpi. Layout form is not limited).
2. Include front and rear 3/4 views, front view and a side view.
3. A recent photograph of yourself in passport format (JPEG format, resolution ratio greater than 300dpi).

Optional but Recommended:
1. Applicants can choose to include design sketches/ ideation, car packaging drawings with ergonomic considerations, detailed component design and written explanation.
2. Digital models or video animations of your proposal (accepted file format includes but is not limited to Alias, Maya, Rhino, IGES).

Submission Format and Rules”
All the above files need to be uploaded in RAR format and be renamed as follows: “name of university-name of candidate-name of design work”.

Please see the SAIC Design Challenge website for competition rules, terms and conditions.

Design Challenge entrants have just over two months to design a vehicle that captures the essence of the brand for a future electric performance scenario. The closing date for entries is June 6, 2018.

Following the initial entries, three shortlisted winners will be chosen and brought in to SAIC’s Technical Center in the UK to work alongside the team to develop and refine their ideas over a two month period.

The grand prize is a professional placement within one of SAIC’s design studios.

“We want to engage with students,” says Gotham, who graduated from Coventry University’s Transportation Design program in 1999 and currently oversees the 35-member UK studio. The studio’s exterior, interior, color and trim, UX and UI designers currently work on concept studies and production projects for both the Roewe and MG brands.

The three shortlisted finalists will not only be mentored by the UK-based design team — working beside them to develop their skills in the studio — but will also see their vehicle made into a 1:4 scale model.

Once the projects are complete, the designers will be flown to Shanghai, China, where they will have the opportunity to present their vision to SAIC board members and international press. The winning design will be chosen in September 2018.

While MG currently sells cars in 36 countries, parent company SAIC — the 7th largest manufacturer in the world (slotting between Honda and Nissan) — has plans to expand the range to become a pioneering export brand.

Buttressed in part by the company’s partnership with Internet provider Alibaba, and European sensibilities, MG has seen a 62% sales increase year-on-year. For perspective, Jaguar Land Rover has only increased 7%. SAIC’s goal with the Design Challenge is to cultivate talent to grow the team and their expertise so they can continue to push the brand’s momentum forward.

“We’re not just doing this for fun,” says Gotham. “We want to find people to join us on our journey.”

Entries for the Design Challenge are currently being accepted via email on [email protected]


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