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Mazda has a new leader for its North American design efforts courtesy of Volkswagen and Audi. Derek Jenkins is moving to Irvine, California to head up the studio that created concepts such as the Nagare and Furai as well as the latest 6 and 3 from Mazda. Jenkins had a 15 year tenure in design at the Volkswagen group, including most recently being the Chief of Design for Volkswagen Group North America.

His credits at VW included the Audi A8 and the Volkswagen Iroc concept that eventually became the new Scirocco.

At the Mazda studio Jenkins is charged with migrating the design language seen on recent concepts like the Nagare into production vehicles coming in the next several years. Check the press release after the jump for all the details.

Press Release

IRVINE, Calif., April 30, 2009 - Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Derek Jenkins to the position of Design Director, Mazda Design Americas (MDA).

As the former Chief of Design for Volkswagen Group North America, Jenkins is credited with numerous concept and production vehicles including the Audi A2, A8 and Volkswagen Scirocco concept. Prior to joining VW in 2000, he held various design roles at both VW and Audi, both in North America and abroad.

"Derek's intimate knowledge and understanding of the North American market, combined with his wealth of experience after having spent 15 successful years at VW & Audi, are going to be a tremendous asset for the Mazda Design team," said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality, MNAO. "He will help us transition our Nagare design philosophy from concept to reality."

In his new role as Design Director, Jenkins oversees a staff of about 25, which pushes creative boundaries by developing advanced ideas for Mazda's next generation of cars. The Irvine-based team is credited with the Kabura, Nagare and Furai concept cars, as well as the new 2009 MAZDA6 and 2010 MAZDA3.

A graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., Jenkins, 39, enjoys surfing, running and motorcycling, as well as restoring cars, remote control airplanes and exploring architectural and industrial design.

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico through more than 850 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

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