Exclusive: Kumho Epoch design story

Concept Cars 12 Nov 2007
Exclusive: Kumho Epoch design story

An exclusive report on the development of the Kumho Epoch Concept, including designer Rob Dolton’s analysis of the car design process.

The Concept

Kumho Epoch Concept - Design sketchesAccording to tire manufacturer Kumho, the Epoch is the first in a long line of concept vehicles and tire innovations that will be presented over the next few years.

The design study is very much a blue skies concept. It looks 20-30 years ahead and explores a number of futuristic innovative solutions.

However, many of the technologies that the vehicle and tires highlights are being developed now, such as the EAP materials and plastics manufactured from recycled tyre rubber.

Kumho Epoch Concept - RenderingThree words were used to define what the project should represent:

  • Simplicity – in surface form and detailing
  • Fun – in the experience that the vehicle offers the user
  • Lightweight"I was very keen to move away from overpowered, heavyweight sports cars and embody the spirit of vehicles such as the Lotus Elise and in many ways the original Fiat 500 Abath."

Kumho Epoch Concept - RenderingKumho sees the Epoch as a calling card for the new design focused product development.

"With the Epoch concept we wanted to explain to our customers where we stand in terms of the environment and in terms of our commitment to motorsport."

"Our goal in focusing on concepts and blue sky projects is to showcase the company’s engineering ability and creative resources."

"Kumho has always used motorsport products to lead its UHP tyre design. This will not change; however we are aware of our responsibilities to the environment and you will see this in the new technologies we are developing for future road and race car products."

"As a company we are looking forward to the reactions that our ideas will create over the coming years and hope that our work can be a source of inspiration."

Below we report an explanation of the Car Design development process – specifically referred to the Epoch concept – explained by Kumho’s designer Rob Dolton.

The Car Design Process explained by Rob Dolton


Kumho Epoch Concept - Design sketchesAfter defining the brief and the goals of the project the first thing that I do is sketch.

This can be a process that takes over everyday life, at every moment that I have the opportunity I’ll draw – on the phone, in a bar, at meetings!

The most important part of any project is to get the first inspirations on paper.

Photoshop tape drawing and renderings

When I have the idea built up into the architecture, stance and feel that I want, I like to create a Photoshop tape drawing.

This process allows me to make sure I’m happy with the most fundamental part of vehicle design, the proportions. I will also create fairly tight Photoshop renderings, these allow less design-literate members of staff to understand where the project is visually. It’s important to remember that not everybody can read a sketch.


Alias DesignStudio ScreenshotThis is my favourite part of the process. 3D is where a design comes to life and where the real designing begins.

I have experience of both clay and 3D development; at the moment at Kumho we use purely digital media.

I use Alias because I find it the best tool for good-quality, relatively fast surfacing work.

At this stage in the project I’ll continue sketching parts of the vehicle that I am reworking to help my understanding of the surfacing and where I need to change surface breaks and rework highlights.

Final Imagery

When the model has been completed and signed off I use Alias Imagestudio as a final render tool. I find that its easy to use and doesn’t have the cost or complexity of programs such as Maya. I may also add a little Photoshop to breathe a bit of “life” into the renderings.

About the Designer

Kumho’s in-house designer Rob Dolton is sais to be "the only qualified vehicle designer employed within the world’s tyre industry."

He works at Kumho’s European Technical Centre in Birmingham, with the task of exploring future technologies for road and track vehicles, and the tyres they run on.

Rob Dolton has graduated from the Automotive Design Department of Coventry University, and has worked for Fiat Advanced Design in Turin before joining Kumho in 2005.

(Image copyright: Kumho)

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