PriestmanGoode, a design consultancy that works across a number of disciplines and industries, including vehicle design, has recently revealed their New Car for London – a vision for the future of ride-hailing vehicles. Dan Window, Creative Director at PriestmanGoode tells us more…

Around the world, car makers, technology companies and futurists are working on defining the future of mobility, a revolution that could significantly impact the way our urban environments look and function.

Transport is part of the very fabric of life, it is fundamental to how we experience places, both urban and rural, whether you’re a local or a tourist. One cannot imagine New York without its yellow taxis or envision travelling through Japan on anything other than the Shinkansen, while the Paris Metro or London Underground are recognised across the world for their distinct visual language. 

The leaps in technology and engineering that are at the heart of autonomous vehicles could change our cities. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to create a high capacity network of vehicles that will make individual passenger journeys better and more comfortable, while helping reduce carbon emissions at point of use. On the other hand, it could change the way our cities look: gentrification of the transport landscape across the world.

It is against this backdrop that we designed the New Car for London. We wanted to design a vehicle that would have a distinct visual identity, taking visual cues from the architecture of the city, and demonstrate that you can design an autonomous vehicle with a sense of place.

For instance, the New Car references the brutalist architecture along London’s Southbank, particularly the National Theatre with the curved staircase contrasting with the architectural forms and striking angles. This is manifested through the simple wrap around glass and overall blocky nature of the vehicle. The angular forms over the wheel arches also take a much more architectural approach as opposed to a more typical streamline automotive language.

The interiors are a nod to London, through the colour and material choices, which reference the distinct red brick buildings of London alongside royal blue, and electric cyan representing contemporary London. This idea of designing autonomous vehicles with a sense of place should be at the forefront of our minds as we develop these future mobility networks. They’re an opportunity to showcase the best a place has to offer, to create something that stands out in a world that is too often homogenous.

It was key for us that passenger anxieties surrounding hygiene and safety that have resulted from the pandemic were integrated within the design. The New Car for London includes a hand sanitiser dispenser, washable materials such as waterproof laminate textiles, leather and recycled plastic, while integrated UV cleaning ensures the vehicle is cleaned after every journey.

Another key driver behind our New Car concept was to challenge the role of autonomous vehicles – focusing on ride-hailing vehicles in particular- beyond just serving individual journeys. This past year has shown the importance of empathy and community support. As we define the future of mobility, let us consider ways in which autonomous vehicles could serve a greater community purpose.

PriestmanGoode is a design consultancy that works across a number of disciplines and industries. From innovation, industrial design and vehicle design to aircraft interiors, rail, public transport and hospitality design, the London-based consultancy has vast experience of understanding and designing passenger journeys. Their ability to transfer skills across industries, and to understand the role each mode of transport as part of a greater, interconnected system, has allowed the studio to continue to innovate and push the boundaries of transport design. 

Visit the PriestmanGoode website for more information about the New Car for London, including design inspiration and features of the new vehicle.

PriestmanGoode is a CAM Creator in the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030: CAM Creators Update. You can view their contribution in the interactive Roadmap tool.