Kevin Rice, head of Mazda’s European design operation, has elected to leave the company to pursue other endeavors, the company announced today. It is the second time Rice has stepped down from his role at the Japanese automaker.
Rice, who was named design director of Mazda’s European design studio shortly after re-joining the company as creative director in 2013 – following a 13-year leave of absence from the company – replaced
Mazda’s European design chief Peter Birtwhistle to work alongside Ikuo Maeda.
Over the course of the last five years, he has been instrumental in pushing forward the Japanese carmaker’s ‘Kodo’ design ethos, most recently showcased on the Mazda Vision Coupe and the Mazda Kai concept cars, the latter said to preview the forthcoming Mazda3 replacement.
Rice, a Coventry University graduate, initially joined the Japanese firm as a senior designer in 1995, working on projects such as the RX-8 and the 1999 Neospace show car. He’s also worked at BMW, where he was responsible for the exterior development of many models including the current 3 and 4 Series. The British national also honed his skills working at Italdesign in Italy and Opel in Germany, where he began his design career in 1986.
Most recently Rice was working closely with TJ Nakamuta, chief designer for Mazda’s design studios in Yokohama and Hiroshima, Japan, Mazda’s North American design director, Julien Montousse, and advanced design director Yasushi Nakamuta.
“As part of the global Mazda design group, Kevin has led a team in Europe who have made significant contributions to the success of our business both in Europe and globally,” President of Mazda Motor Europe, Jeff Guyton, said in a statement. “We will miss his energy and passion and wish him every success in the next stage of his career.”
Mazda has not yet named a successor to the European design chief role.