Interview and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

We had a chance to catch up with Guelph, Ontario native Jeff Hammoud at the 2014 Canadian International Auto Show and sat down to ask him some questions about his career, the 200 and Chrysler design.

Could you start off by telling us some of your career highlights?
My first exterior design of a production car was actually the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was released in 2011. So that was the first major vehicle that I worked on.

Plus I’ve worked on a lot of different buzz models for Fiat, recently we showed the Fiat 500 GQ, the 1957 Retro to name a few, but the most recent thing is the 2015 Chrysler 200.

Tell us about your role in the 200’s design.

I was the lead designer and also the manager on the program for that car. I was in charge of working out the design, executing it from a sketch to a clay model, to a digital model, and then to production. So it was a process I started well over three years ago.

2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview
2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview. Click image to enlarge

Walk us through your aims for this new design:

This 200 is a brand new car, it doesn’t share anything with the previous generation, so we wanted to come up with a unique statement for the Chrysler brand. We looked at this car, and some of the challenges with a D-Sedan is trying to make a unique appearance for the car. One of the things in design that really sets a car apart is the silhouette; if you put a cover over it will you still know what it is? So when we started with this car that was the first thing we looked at. If you look at the silhouette of the car it has a very streamlined appearance, very coupe like with a short deck lid.

I think that gives it a unique appearance in this segment, but it still retains all the legroom and headroom targets. It’s very competitive in the segment so we didn’t compromise any of that. It also gives a very aerodynamic feel to the car. Not only is it aerodynamic looking, it is the most aerodynamic car in its class. It has a 0.26 Cd which is very low in the segment.

Something that helps set this car apart is that is has an upscale appearance to it. That’s done with some of the surfacing on the car. You’ll appreciate it when you first see, but then you’ll start to really like it as you start to look at it and see it drive down the road. A lot of the attention to detail was spent on the reflections you see on the car. The sketch is not just the line works, it’s also designing the reflections. So it will look very liquid and ‘in motion’ as you see it driving down the road.

Looking at the rear it has a wide stance, it has an integrated spoiler in there, it gives a very upscale appearance.

One thing Chrysler has always been successful with is offering a premium-looking, upscale vehicles at an affordable price.

2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview
2015 Chrsyler 200-Jeff Hammoud Interview. Click image to enlarge

Since you were the manager on the whole program, what were your aims with the interior, and how much time did you spend working with those teams?

We do spend a lot of time trying to have similar decisions. We want the interior and exterior to come together and be a holistic design. A lot of the time, especially in the interior, was spent on this whole American-design philosophy. They looked at things such as Eames chairs, and you look at some of the wood and how it is very structural – they spent a lot of time coming up with that unique appearance.

From the exterior standpoint on an American design, the main body sideline is relevant from some of the ’60s Chryslers. I mean the big 300s had the same bodyline that stretched from one end of the car to the next. That’s not like we were trying to make the car retro, but we wanted to draw something from our past. Something that was very American, very Chrysler. And you can see that line even on today’s cars.

I’m curious about that, because it’s a very different design to the 300. Were you trying to break from the 300? Because that’s gained a reputation as an icon. Were you conscious of trying to differentiate?

I think we were definitely trying to break from it. The 300 is a very different segment. It’s a little more upscale, a little bolder, it’s got a more noble appearance.

The 200 is a D-Sedan. It’s the largest segment in North America, so we want to inject our personality onto it but we want it to look different. I think the surface quality is where we are trying to move the Chrysler brand. It’s got a very fluid quality, very soft and full-formed, very humanistic in its shapes. These are some of the things we tried to do to kind of separate it.

But most of all what separates it is the new front end. It’s our new face of Chrysler brand. Now the Chrysler wing is not in a chrome header, it’s in the centre grill. It’s very prominent, it’s really celebrated that it’s the new design direction for the Chrysler front end, which sets it apart from where the 300 is today.

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