By Gary S. Vasilash
Here’s something that you probably don’t know about Bob Boniface, director of Global Buick Design, even if you know Bob Boniface.
He began his career. . .working at a mutual fund in Boston after receiving his undergraduate degree. . .in psychology and economics.
Boniface did go to the College of Creative Studies in Detroit and while there was hired as an intern to work at Chrysler which led to a job offer from then-head of Chrysler Design, Tom Gale.
Boniface was to work at Chrysler for 12 years, during which time he worked on a variety of projects including the second-generation Dodge Intrepid, the Dodge Intrepid ESX (a diesel hybrid with wheel motors), the Stow ‘n Go seating for the minivans, the 300C, and the Jeep Liberty.
In 2004 Boniface moved across town to General Motors. The first thing he worked on was the GM Sequel—a fuel cell-powered vehicle. Then the gen-five Camaro.
Boniface says, on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” that he was, in effect, employee #1 on the Chevrolet Volt.
Then he moved to Cadillac for six years. He worked on XT4, XT5, CTS, CT6 and. . .he says the best part was working on the V-Series, the CTS-V and the ATS-V. (He says one of the engaging parts of the V programs was the level of commitment across all the functions involved: by having everyone working toward making something special, the results is–something special.)
Boniface moved to Buick in 2016 and has worked on vehicles including the Enclave and the Envision.
He points out that a lot of his work involves overseeing the studios in Korea and China. The China market is huge for Buick—roughly four times that of the U.S. market, so that part of the world is important. He notes that a lot of developments in the interior space are occurring in that part of the world, and interiors are part of his portfolio.
But then there’s the Wildcat EV Concept.
Realize that Buick arguably gave rise to the whole notion of the concept vehicle with the 1938 Buick Y-Job. The brand has had a number of vehicles with striking designs since then, such as the Wildcat I and II of the 1950s to the Velite in 2004 to the Avenir in 2016.
Back in 2018 Boniface says that they went to work on developing not so much a new vehicle as a new design language. But that exercise gave rise to the Wildcat EV Concept, a 2+2 coupe that is an expression of the electric future of Buick and that expression includes a new face—although being new, it also includes a nod to the brand’s design paste (e.g., high lamps, body-mounted badge).
Again: it is the language that they created and the vehicles to come will be spelled with those words.
If you have any interest in automotive design over the past 30 years, then this edition of “Autoline After Hours” is must viewing.
And you can see it here.