Franz von Holzhausen is a very Teutonic name but the man who holds it was born and raised on Simsbury, CT, so he about as American as my two sons who were born in Hartford. For the past 2 years, Franz has been chief US design for Mazda working out of their Irvine, CA design center, one of three design centers Mazda has, the others being in Europe and in Japan. Young, informal and tall, Franz looks like a southern California surfer until he starts to speak the language of design. I recently went to hear him speak.
The Mazda corporate theme for the past few years has been "Zoom, Zoom" (Why two "Zooms"?) I would call it hokey except that most reports I've read do indeed say that Mazda is delivering on the motto, with attractive exterior design, quality interior design, and excellent engine performance and handling. Mazda is growing in stature and sales in the market place, a good thing for a firm in the Ford family of nameplates.

Franz spoke about the show cars recently displayed at various auto shows (see Hakaze link below). Each one gets its name and theme for shapes in nature so I guess they would be considered as organic rather than geometric or on steroids as some "muscular" production vehicles look today. As part of Zoom, Zoom, the cars look fluid, integrated but not necessarily ergonomic. Each will be a front engine, rear or all wheel drive vehicle, a departure from the front wheel drive of most Mazdas up till now.

These designs will likely be a starting point for future Mazdas that have to comply with the new US Energy bill when it gets passed. How green with the design be? We will have to stick around to see.

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