Interview: Ralph Gilles, chief design officer, Stellantis

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Stellantis’ chief design officer Ralph Giles speaks to Car Design News about his mentor Tom Gale, tinkering with Giugaro-designed sciroccos and how the company is moving towards electrification 

Ralph Gilles is a chief design officer for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Maserati, and the Fiat Latin America brands, which all fall under the Stellantis umbrella. Gilles joined Chrysler’s design department in 1992, and was appointed vice president of interior design for Jeep truck and specialty vehicles in 2006. Among his best-known projects are the Chrysler 300 and the SRT Viper. Gilles spoke to CDN editor James McLachlan at the recent Car Design Dialogues North America virtual event. 

Car Design News: You’ve mentioned Tom Gale as a mentor in the past, and I wondered if you could share a little bit about what you learned from him.

Ralph Gilles: Tom was a fascinating person in the way that he had an engineering degree, a business degree, and a design degree. So, he was really a triple threat. I observed him handling engineers like no designer ever could because he often knew their subject better than they did. He was the father of the 20-inch wheel on the Ram truck, which set the market alight – he would go to battle and get cab forward proportions on the pick-ups. For the first eight years of my career, I just watched him in action. Right around his retirement, I reached out to him and said, “Hey, could you mentor me?”

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