Yesterday afternoon was a quietly important time for the future of the automobile.

The Royal College of Art’s prestigious vehicle design course opened to the great and good of the global car industry.

Over a few hours, established designers from most carmakers descend on Kensington Gore in central London to view the work of the latest graduates.

It’s the chance for the students to impress the designers and snap up work experience or even a full-time job with an automotive company.

In recent years, some of the vehicle design graduation shows were almost apologetic about the role of the car, overwhelmed by the hate turned towards personal transport by the rampant environmental movement.

This year – the 40th anniversary of the course – was very different. Even though nearly all of the 15 projects addressed green concerns in some way, they also reflected a great love of the car.

Key themes included, recyclability, alternative materials (including wood), low impact running and quite a few projects were concerned with the new emphasis in the industry on aerodynamics.

High quality models and revival of stunning artwork also bodes well for the future of car design. Indeed, while I was at the show, Ralph Tayler-Webb’s beautiful Halcyon concept (which promises near-silent running, inside and out, and is pictured below) was being eyed admiringly by Aston Martin design boss Marek Reichmann.

The really good news for us is that the class of 2009 clearly loved the car and were unapologetic about it. One student said he was reacting to the unfair level of enviro-blame being reigned down on the car industry.

Judging by these graduates, in five or ten years from now, cars will be just a sexy and desirable. It’s just that the technology under the seductive skins will be even more recyclable and much less thirsty.

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