2008 Honda Open Study Model – Click above for high-res image gallery
The car design community has been sent reeling by word that Honda plans to close down its European design studio. The office forms part of Honda R&D Europe in Offenbach on the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, and while the rest of the research and development facility will continue operating in other capacities, the design studio is reportedly being axed.
The two-floor, 3000-square-meter design studio at Offenbach opened its doors in 1992, and has since handled a variety of automotive and motorcycle design duties for the Japanese automaker – including the Open Study Model pictured above. The reported announcement of its closure arrives against the backdrop of cutbacks across the board for Honda, including its withdrawal from major auto shows, the sale of its (now championship-leading) Formula One team, and temporary closures at assembly plants.
While some of Offenbach's motorcycle design responsibilities are expected to transfer to Honda's comparatively tiny 200-square-meter studio in Milan, there's no telling what will happen to the company's automotive design unit. But if we were living and working in Frankfurt, we'd be pushing for a transfer to Italy like there was no tomorrow – because with the rate at which Honda has been cutting back overhead, we'd bet that's where the future is.