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Ex Ford, Mazda designer to head styling at Renault

Fri, 10 Apr 2009

Former Ford Motor and Mazda designer Laurens van den Acker will succeed Patrick le Quement as head of design at French automaker Renault.

Van den Acker, 43, quit as head of design at Mazda earlier this month. He will join Renault on May 15 and assume le Quement's full responsibilities starting on Nov. 1.

Van den Acker, a Dutch native, is an experienced designer who had led Mazda's corporate design since 2006.

Before taking the Mazda post, van den Acker was chief designer for Ford's Escape platform and was based at Ford's design center in Dearborn, Mich. He has also done exterior design work for Audi in Germany and worked with specialist design companies in Turin, Italy and California.

Le Quement, 64, who is retiring, leaves a contrasting history after 22 years steering Renault's design activities.

On the positive side, the French designer was responsible for some of Renault's design successes such as the Twingo city car and the first-generation Scenic, which launched the European compact minivan segment.

But some of le Quement's designs won fans and critics in equal numbers. His second-generation Megane compact hatchback had a bulging rear end that horrified many people, but the car still sold well.

Le Quement's Avantime and Vel Satis luxury cars had distinctive designs that did not go down well with buyers.

Le Quement likely will be most clearly remembered for creating a global network of design centers to help Renault tailor the design of its cars to local markets. He also implemented digital design at the carmaker.

By Lawrence J. Speer- Automotive News Europe