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Hey Derek Jenkins, how did you get to be the Design VP of Lucid Motors?



Derek Jenkins is what you would call a designer‘s designer. As the VP of Design at Lucid Motors, Jenkins is tasked with bringing the company’s first luxury EV sedan, the Lucid Air, to market by 2019. He holds a B.S. from the Art Center College of Design in Transportation Design and has spent time in the design studios at Volkswagen and Mazda. If you like the look of the latest MX-5, thank Jenkins.

I spoke with Jenkins over the phone to find out how he got to be top design dog at a start-up car company and how he sees technology impacting future car design.

Lucid Motos Derek Jenkins

Jenkins showing off a clay model of the luxury EV sedan Lucid Air. 

Lucid Motors

Roadshow:  What was your first car?

Jenkins: A 1974 Volkswagen Thing. It’s one of the most undesigned cars on the road, but I just loved it. My father was really into baja bugs in the ’70s and ’80s, and I was just drawn to that kind of minimalist usability. I grew up in Orange County, Calif. in Huntington Beach and the Thing was the ultimate surfmobile. I got it out of this guy’s back yard where it had been sitting for years, filled with leaves and holes in the floor. From when I was 14 to 16 I cleaned it up and got it painted and once I turned 16, that’s what I was driving. It looked pretty stock but it was the ’80s so I put a big stereo in it.

Q. What was your first automotive job, and how did you get it?

A: While I was at Art Center, I interned with Porsche for the summer at the technical and design center outside of Stuttgart. That was my first exposure to a professional design studio. Later in college, I interned at the Volkswagen studio.

When I came out of school, I went straight to work for Audi in Germany. Most of that was based on my internships. I always stress with students in design that those intern programs are critical. We were able to develop a great working relationship during the internship, so right off the bat they said, “Hey, when you get done with school, come work for us.” The internship really led to that employment.

Q:Take me through an average day at Lucid.

A: My average day is a little different from working at a traditional car company. My role spans all the core design disciplines with exterior and interior design, color and materials, and user experience. Beyond that I am doing a lot of strategy work like product planning and our branding efforts. I work on everything aesthetic about the company: website, photography style, videos, the whole look and feel and personality of how this brand is visually represented. That’s typically not handled by design directors, but all that is the creative soul of the company. It’s important that they all align.

In addition I oversee the production development of the Lucid Air. I work with engineers and our marketing team to develop what features we’re pushing into production, how many variants of the vehicle will be available, as well as the ongoing refinement and evolution of the the design.

We also have a series of concepts that would come after Lucid Air that I am responsible for. They will help establish what our second and third products will be.

I’m also deeply involved in sharing the company’s mission and vision with key potential investors. As a start-up, you’re often looking toward your next round of funding, and you need to prepare for that by sharing the company with investors who have shown preliminary interest. We bring them in for a deeper dive and give them a full idea of what they can expect from their potential investment. That takes up quite a bit of my time, and it’s not something I would traditionally do working at Ford or GM.

Q: What is the most tedious thing about your current job?

A: I don’t like the term tedious, but not everything about designing cars is super-sexy. There are some aspects that are arduous. Often it’s trying to realize the most you can from a particular design. Lucid has an advantage because the design and engineering staff are more or less one team, all working under the same roof and in most cases in the same room. Bigger car companies have evolved into big silos where all the different disciplines that go into making a car are in their own departments, and they work to some extent as adversaries. It limits innovation and good design. That said, I am confronted at every turn to get the most out of the design, the look, the feel as well as the engineering of the Lucid Air, and when that is combined with cost and manufacturing, it’s a big challenge. There are days when it does wear you out.


The Lucid Air is scheduled to be on sale at the end of 2019.

Lucid Motors

Q: How does tech affect the future of your job?

A: At this point I’d argue that technology is pretty much everything. Technical innovation and application are at the very core of everything we do. I see our approach toward design as subservient to technology and innovation, and I personally think that’s what will lead to breakthrough in design. If you look at key breakthroughs in the automobile or any other consumer product where the design was well received, often times there is an underpinning of a technology that helped enable that design. We try to take that to heart and make that a part of the design process.

Then there are the broader changes happening with electrification, autonomy, connected tech; all of those things that now have to be considered in the fundamental architecture and layout of a vehicle. I can clearly point out where the Lucid Air has been aesthetically directly influenced by technology. Nearly every aspect of the aesthetic has some technical foundation. I think we are in a massive revolution as we speak, and technology is driving it.

Q: What automotive trend makes your blood boil?

A: My biggest peeve right now with the current state of car design is big fake air intakes and fake grilles. We went through an era in the ’80s and part of the ’90s where the face expression of the automobile was somewhat sedate. Then cars like the Miata, the Dodge Viper, even the new Beetle put the face and expression back on cars. This was part of this retro revolution that happened in the late ’80s and early ’90s. So we spent the next 15 years and more making automobiles more and more expressive from the face. Now it’s kind of out of control; where we have these big gaping holes, not really holes, just black plastic. It’s almost like a Jack-o-lantern approach to car design, where you just cut out big areas to make the car even more expressive. My sense is that it’s just reached a point of absurdity when any given car, even a car that has barely over 120 horsepower, has enough black space on its face to cool a V12. That’s when you know the trend is done.

Lucid Air

Flanked by fog, the Lucid Air makes a statement with its distinct front fascia. No open grilles here.

Lucid Motors

Q: What is the one project you’ve always wanted to tackle professionally but have never been able to do?

A: There are certainly some products that I took a stab at that never came to market. When I was at Volkswagen, I worked on that microbus concept in 2001. Here we are 16 years later and there is still nothing like that on the market. The ID Buzz will show up in 2023, and then they’ll kill it again. It’s VW’s fifth attempt, including the one I worked on, to bring it to market. I hope they do, but I am shocked that nobody else has tried to bring cool vans to the market.

I grew up in the ’70s, and my parents had a van with shag carpeting and bean bags in the bag. I wonder why everyone is driving around in these crossovers when there could be a cool version of something like that. I still feel like there is an untapped market for a cool van. As an industry we continue to find finite iterations of the crossover when there is this blatant opportunity and nobody is doing it.

Q. If you weren’t working in the automotive industry, what would you be doing?

A: Sometimes I think I would be screwed if I weren’t doing this. I probably would have pursued something in architecture. I also like apparel, especially shoe design. I’ve dabbled in that a little bit. Neither are really big stretches from what I’m doing now. I’ve also appreciated boat and yacht design. Art Center had a marine and yacht design program that I looked into, but ultimately the car thing was more of a burning passion than those other areas. To work in car design, you just have to want it badly enough because there are so many people who are trying to do it. The people that are successful are obsessed.

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Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court | Technology



The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent.
Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook’s default privacy settings and use of personal data are against German consumer law, according to a judgement handed down by a Berlin regional court.

The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent. The federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV), which brought the suit, argued that Facebook opted users in to features which it should not have.

Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the VZBV, said: “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

In a statement, VZBV elaborated on some of its issues: “In the Facebook app for smartphones, for example, a location service was pre-activated that reveals a user’s location to people they are chatting to.

“In the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user’s timeline. This meant that anyone could quickly and easily find personal Facebook profiles.”

The Berlin court agreed with VZBV that the five default settings the group had complained about were invalid as declarations of consent. The German language judgment was handed down in mid-January, but only publicly revealed on Monday.

The court also ruled eight clauses in Facebook’s terms of service to be invalid, including terms that allow Facebook to transmit data to the US and use personal data for commercial purposes. The company’s “authentic name” policy – a revision of a rule that once required users to use their “real names” on the site, but which now allows them to use any names they are widely known by – was also ruled unlawful.

In a statement, Facebook said it would appeal, adding: “We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law.”

A week after the Berlin court ruled against Facebook, the social network promised to radically overhaul its privacy settings, saying the work would prepare it for the introduction in Europe of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a sweeping set of laws governing data use across the EU.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, announced the changes, saying they would “put the core privacy settings for Facebook in one place and make it much easier for people to manage their data”.

The European Union’s new stronger, unified data protection laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will come into force on 25 May 2018, after more than six years in the making.

GDPR will replace the current patchwork of national data protection laws, give data regulators greater powers to fine, make it easier for companies with a “one-stop-shop” for operating across the whole of the EU, and create a new pan-European data regulator called the European Data Protection Board.

The new laws govern the processing and storage of EU citizens’ data, both that given to and observed by companies about people, whether or not the company has operations in the EU. They state that data protection should be both by design and default in any operation.

GDPR will refine and enshrine the “right to be forgotten” laws as the “right to erasure”, and give EU citizens the right to data portability, meaning they can take data from one organisation and give it to another. It will also bolster the requirement for explicit and informed consent before data is processed, and ensure that it can be withdrawn at any time.

To ensure companies comply, GDPR also gives data regulators the power to fine up to €20m or 4% of annual global turnover, which is several orders of magnitude larger than previous possible fines. Data breaches must be reported within 72 hours to a data regulator, and affected individuals must be notified unless the data stolen is unreadable, ie strongly encrypted.

Facebook has faced repeated attacks from European regulators, particularly those in Germany, over issues ranging from perceived anti-competitive practices to alleged misuse of customer data.

Since March 2016, the company has been investigated by the German Federal Cartel Office over allegations it breaches data protection law in order to support an unfair monopoly. In an interim update in December last year, the office said that it objected to the way Facebook gains access to third-party data when an account is opened. This includes transferring information from its own WhatsApp and Instagram products – as well as how it tracks which sites its users access.

In October, Facebook was the target of an EU-wide investigation over a similar issue. The Article 29 Working Party (WP29), which oversees data regulation issues across the European Union, launched a taskforce to examine the sharing of user data between WhatsApp and Facebook, which it says does not have sufficient user consent. When the data sharing feature was first announced in 2016, the group warned Facebook that it may not be legal under European law, prompting the company to pause the data transfer until a resolution was found.

“Whilst the WP29 notes there is a balance to be struck between presenting the user with too much information and not enough, the initial screen made no mention at all of the key information users needed to make an informed choice, namely that clicking the agree button would result in their personal data being shared with the Facebook family of companies,” the group told WhatsApp in October.

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Samsung S9 vs iPhone X vs Pixel 2: which one should you buy?



In the last five months, three of the most well-known smartphone manufacturers – Apple, Samsung and Google – have announced new flagship devices. Google led the pack in October with the release of its Pixel 2, with Apple following a month later with the iPhone X. Now Samsung has revealed its own hand with the announcement of the Galaxy S9 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

There’s not a great deal separating these devices at the top-end of the smartphone market, although each device has its own strengths and weaknesses in different areas. So to help you work out the best device for your own needs, we’ve put together a guide to how they compare.


The Pixel 2 has a five-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a chunky bezel at the top and bottom of the screen. This is the smallest screen of the three flagships, which is to be expected since it has the smallest overall footprint too, but it does feel a little squeezed compared to the other two phones. Flip the Pixel 2 over and you’ll find some models have a contrast colour scheme on the back, with the top section of the phone a slightly different shade to the rest of the back. Whether this rocks your boat is down to personal preference, but its a nice touch of personality that is sometimes missing from these top-tier devices.


Enter the Samsung Galaxy S9. Its 5.8-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen takes up almost all of the front of the device, leaving just a narrow strip of bezel at either end. At either side, the screen gently curves around the sides of the device, blending neatly into the rear. On the back of the phone, the fingerprint scanner has been shifted to sit directly beneath the camera. Compared to the Pixel 2, the S9 is a much slicker-looking device, all smooth curves and shiny glass, that fits much more screen into a similarly-sized device. It’s also the only of these devices to have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, so if you’re still fully wired up, this is the phone for you.

Dimensions compared

The iPhone X also has a 5.8-inch, screen even though the device as a whole is a tad smaller than the S9. And as is the case with the S9, the iPhone X screen fills almost the entire of the front of the device, save for the notorious notch that takes a chunk out at the very top. There’s no fingerprint scanner on the iPhone X, since Apple decided to go all-in on Face ID with this model, and some people might find it more inconvenient using their face to verify payments or unlock the device instead of a finger, so that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re picking between the devices.


All three of these phones have extremely capable cameras, so picking between them again comes down to a matter of personal taste. The single-lens 12.2 megapixel rear-facing camera on the Pixel 2 has an aperture with an f-stop of 1.8, which makes it particularly well-suited to photography in low-light conditions – and recent software updates have given the camera another boost. Aside from its snapping skills, Google has integrated some machine learning smarts into its camera so you can point its at an object in the real world and use Google Assistant to identify it and bring up relevant information.


Since it’s only just been announced, the jury is still out on the Galaxy S9 camera, although initial indications are that Samsung has managed to set a new high when it comes to smartphone cameras. Like the Pixel 2, the main S9 camera also has one lens, and a 12 megapixel sensor, but the S9 has another trick up its sleeve. A variable aperture feature widens up the camera’s f-stop in low light conditions, letting in way more light than most smartphone cameras are able to capture in relative darkness. In normal light conditions, the camera automatically switches to a more conventional f-stop for better focussing. The ability to record slow-mo at 960 fps is a nice too, too.

Cameras compared

The iPhone X also has a 12 megapixel sensor, but this one is a part of a dual-lens setup, with one wide-angle lens paired with a telephoto lens for photos with plenty of Instagram-friendly bokeh. Dual optical image stabilisation smooths out videos taken in bumpy circumstances while the X’s quad-LED flash is supposed to smoothly light backgrounds and foregrounds without washing subjects out.


There’s not an awful lot between these phones when it comes to their insides. The S9 and Pixel 2 both have super-fast eight-core processors, while the X’s six-core processor is more than capable of powering everything the phone can do. If plenty of storage capacity is a must, then the S9 has a Micro SD slot that can fit in up to a 400 GB SD card, while the Pixel and the X both max out at 256 GB. When it comes to battery, however, the S9 leads the pack with its 3,00mAh battery, while the X’s battery weighs in at 2716mAh and the Pixel 2 at 2,700. All should last a day of mixed use.


If you’re in the market for a new phone and only the best will do, then you’ve got a tough decision ahead of you. In terms of specs, these phones are more or less on par with each other, but if a big screen is a must then you can rule out the Pixel 2 and decide between the other contenders. Photos are more subjective, and each of these phones will hardly disappoint in the camera department, so it’s worth taking the time to get hands-on with these devices and take a few test shots to decide which one is really ticking your boxes. Whichever you chose, you can’t go far wrong.

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