Bart van Lotrigen, head of design at DAF Trucks NV, was a special guest at the Autostyle Design 2023 XX Edition event held over two days at the Villa Schiarino Lena at Mantovano, Mantova, Italy. It was the first occasion in the event’s twenty year history that a truck brand was represented and exhibited at this prestigious annual conference, which showcases the best in automotive design in a number of ways.
Organised by Berman S.p.A, in association with technical partners Wacom and Gravity Sketch, together with media partners, including Fleet Publications, Autostyle 2023 XX hosts a Design Competition Awards ceremony for young automotive design students, presentation workshops from Styling Centre chiefs and an exhibition of a range of vehicles from sports cars, motorcycles and this year a DAF tractor-unit.
The large gathering were treated to a unique insight to the design philosophy and story of the new DAF XG+ flagship, from Bart, which was honoured with the International Truck of the Year Award 2022, soon after launch. The Dutch native, with a career in automotive design for over thirty years, which includes a decade with Volvo cars, heads up a team of ten in-house designers, based at Eindhoven, Netherlands.
He emphasised that from the start that the New Generation DAF truck range was created with people in mind, from driver to operator, covering three main themes or ‘pillars’: Efficiency, Safety and Comfort. Significant fuel savings of up to 10% has been achieved, though advanced cab aerodynamics and rubber sealed panel joint lines, and the XG+ is the first truck to comply with the revised EU Masses & Dimensions 2020 regulations. He mentioned that in order to meet the reduced drag coefficient, (19% better than the outgoing XF cab), the design stylus began at the rear of the combined truck and trailer articulated unit.
Overall, the length of the cab has been extended by 50cm, +16cm elongated to the front end and +33cm extra to the rear section, which allows for a roomier working and living space inside. Therefore, what has also been achieved and acknowledged is up to 12.5m3 internal space inside the cab – class leading. In addition, best ever direct vision has been achieved through a lower dash line, larger windscreen and glazed kerb side door panel. A so called ‘human centered design process’ was established, whereby a series of customer council clinics were held to seek out what the current professional driver needs and likes to see equipped and installed in trucks of today and tomorrow. Intuitive ergonomics were top of the list along with being able to turn the cabin into a living area, during rest periods. Cleaver storage areas, LED lighting, a flat floor, a well cushioned bunk, plus swivel seats with slide out table access, were also on the agenda. Customer and driver reaction has been very positive, much to the satisfaction of Bart and his team.
The latest variant in the New Generation DAF range, which caters for construction and vocational operations, the XFC and XDC also got a mention, with Bart stating that additional on-site clinics were held with clients in order to get a better understanding of the applications involved. Sporting a more muscular stance with ‘bolder’ grille and higher ground clearance, the new XFC/XDC series had to be also “urban friendly” he said. The fitting of a rear window is a big advantage, relating to all round visibility, enhancing the already aforementioned direct vision elements around the other sections of the cab. For municipal operations, a third seat can be installed as an optional extra.
Commenting on his inaugural visit to Autostyle, Bart said he was very pleased to be invited and was overwhelmed with the audience interest and reaction to the presence of the XG+ at the Villa. “It was a great opportunity to broaden the information base to a different set of non-truck related people. The XG+ looked great among the Lancia, Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini cars on display in front of the Villa,” he added.
Bart plans to be back next year and talk about his hobby, designing sports car concepts!