Fullsize pickups still will be around in 2025, but they will have to be a lot different in order to meet corporate average fuel economy and emissions targets. What will they be like? And what will their interiors look like?

For a fresh perspective, WardsAuto is partnering once again with interior suppliers International Automotive Components and Lear to sponsor a design competition with students from the Transportation Design Department of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Hard at work since January, the seniors have come up with clever and thought-provoking concepts.

The student projects will be on display at the SAE World Congress April 8-10 at Cobo Center in Detroit at WardsAuto booth 1209. Finalists in the competition will be announced during a ceremony at the booth April 9 at 4:30 pm.

A panel of top automotive designers picked the finalists and winners: 

Ariel Choi, Lead Designer at Calty Design Research; Teckla Rhoads, executive director-Global Industrial Design, General Motors; Scott Ferrier, design manager, Ford; and Robert Walker, chief designer-Jeep Brand Interiors, Chrysler.

Visualizing the future has been the goal of the WardsAuto Interiors Student Design Competition since its inception. Talented student designers from around the world turn their imaginations loose to create ideas that push the boundaries of current design but still keep in mind real-world constraints such as cost and safety.

In our fifth annual competition, WardsAuto and CCS tasked the students to envision a pickup interior for the year 2025 that integrates the multiple roles the trucks play in owners’ lives, from rolling office to recreational vehicle.

Using today’s pickups as a guide, students were required to design an interior that is durable and practical, yet sophisticated and attractive. Load-bearing structures must be strong, yet lightweight.

One of the most important things students were required to keep in mind is pickup truck owners are as passionate about their vehicles as sports-car enthusiasts are about theirs. Top-end pickup trucks now cost $60,000 or more and feature fine leather and wood trim, heated steering wheels and the latest electronic features.

Design entries were required to be based on the dimensions of current fullsize light-duty pickups available in the U.S.

Students were given a full brief on the lifestyle of a potential pickup buyer in 2025, a successful couple in their 50s. The husband is a building contractor and the wife is a veterinarian for large animals. They have two grown children who participate regularly in family activities such as boating, snowmobiling and camping.

Instructor Joann Jung, whose day job is managing global interior design strategy at Ford, guided the students and helped keep their projects on target.

The grand prize winner will be revealed, along with the recipients of special awards from IAC and Lear, at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference May 21 at The Henry hotel in Dearborn, MI, where the student projects also will be on display.

The Lear Innovation Award is given to the student whose work includes specific design or technical innovation the judges deem particularly inspired and forward-thinking.

The IAC EcoBlend Award will go to the student whose design or concept best embraces green mobility or uses lightweight renewable/recyclable materials and other Earth-friendly innovations.

dwinter@wardsauto.com