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Carmakers tell the inside story

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Automobile interiors are the latest battleground in the war for the hearts and minds of car buyers, but they are also becoming more and more alike, a leading auto designer said Wednesday.

"There's a bit of a rut now in interiors," Ralph Gilles, head of one of the Chrysler Group's main design studios, said in a speech at the Ward's Auto Interiors Show at Cobo Center.

He challenged interior suppliers attending the show to help Chrysler and other automakers find their way out of it.

Although it was once easy to tell a Japanese interior from a European one, automakers' design from all regions have evolved in similar directions, Gilles said. But new materials and technologies offer opportunities to branch out, which Chrysler is trying to do.

"We've been focusing lately on distinguishing our brands from each other," he said.

So future Jeep products will have more functional interiors, while Dodge models will use more color.
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