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Mazda hires VW alum Derek Jenkins to head U.S. design staff

Thu, 30 Apr 2009

Former Volkswagen designer Derek Jenkins has been hired to be the design chief for Mazda in America.

Jenkins, 39, fills a position vacated last summer by Franz von Holzhausen, who left to take the top design post at electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors.

Jenkins had been chief of design for the Volkswagen Group in North America, which he joined in 2000. His design credits include the VW Scirocco concept, the Audi A2 city car and the Audi A8 luxury sedan.

At Mazda Design Americas in Irvine, Calif., Jenkins will head a staff of 25 people. The Irvine center styled the redesigned 2010 Mazda 3, the 2009 Mazda 6 and the Kabura, Nagare and Furai concept cars.

Jenkins is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. His hobbies include surfing, running, motorcycling, remote-control airplanes and restoring cars.

"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 and Audi, are going to be a tremendous asset for the Mazda Design team," said Robert Davis, head of Mazda product development and quality in North America.

By Dale Jewett