Known first as the Target 2020 challenge and later as Target 2030, the awards are now into their ninth year of supporting and encouraging young Australian automotive designers.
This year’s winners were secondary school student Aman Bhatti - winning for the second year in a row - and tertiary student Merric French.
The winners were presented with their awards by Minister for Manufacturing, Major Projects and Ports, David Hodgett, in front of 200 guests and media at Melbourne’s Federation Square.
Heads of design for the Australian arms of Ford, Toyota and Holden were also in attendance, and Ford will again support the awards through its ongoing design internship program.
Secondary student Aman Bhatti will go through the Ford internship program for the second year running, having already enjoyed the benefits of expert guidance and industry exposure after last year’s win.
“I am thrilled to win an Award and can’t thank VACC enough. I am passionate about vehicle design and can’t wait to become a professional designer. I also want to thank Ford to picking me for their Internship Program for the second successive year,” Bhatti said.
“Design is my passion and I am already professionally employed in the automotive design sector. It’s demanding and at the same time exhilarating. I’m confident about the industry’s future and this Award strengthens my desire to be part of it,” Merric said.
Bhatti will be joined in the internship program by Alexander Holmes, a fellow secondary student and winner of the ‘Highly Commended’ award.
Monash University student Merric French (pictured top of article) unveiled a concept that, while short on wheels, was loaded with ideas on advanced future interior technologies.
French’s concept focused on flexible and adaptable interior features, using technologies - some still being researched in the industry - that could adapt to body temperature and shape to ensure optimum comfort.
The judging panel for the event was led by Paul Beranger, the former boss of Toyota Style Australia, along with Holden design chief Richard Ferlazzo, Ford Australia design lead Andy Collinson, and Toyota Style Australia's Nic Hogios.
Along with the wisdom of key industry figures, winners and their schools also benefit from $18,000 in total prize money.
Even those that do not make the final round of judging gain crucial exposure to the industry, with all shortlisted secondary entrants invited to Monash University for an automotive design Master class.
VACC Executive Director David Purchase congratulated the winners and thanked government and industry for its continued support of the awards.
"Given the closure news from the car companies, it was important this year to promote the automotive design sector. The evening contained a discussion with the Heads of Design from Ford, Holden and Toyota who were put on the spot about the future of their design departments,” Mr Purchase said.
“It was good for students, parents and teachers to hear that Australia's automotive design sector, which is based in Victoria, will continue to require aspiring young designers.”
"We thank Minister Hodgett for his ongoing support of the Awards, Ford President and CEO, Bob Graziano for announcing in person the internship program for two secondary school students at the Ford Design Centre and we thank the members of the Judging Panel, namely, Andy Collinson, Exterior Design Manager, Ford; Richard Ferlazzo, Design Director, GM Holden; Nic Hogios, Corporate Manager, Toyota and Chairman of the Panel, Paul Beranger.”