Derek Jenkins is no longer the head of design as confirmed by Eric Booth, Senior Manager, Public Relations at Mazda North American Operations. According to Booth, Jenkins’ last day was Friday, July 17, 2015, just days before the launch of the 2016 Mazda CX-3, “His last day was Friday. Derek was a huge part of Mazda, and we appreciate all his contributions.”
Derek Jenkins has had a long and impressive career in the car industry. According to Jenkins Linkedin page his career experience has been as Director of Design Mazda North America, Chief Designer, April 2009 – Present, Volkswagen of America, Inc, Assistant Chief Designer, 2000 – 2009, Volkswagen of America, Inc, 1997 – 2000, and Exterior Designer, Audi AG,1993 – 1997.
Jenkins graduated from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, the Who’s Who of designers in the auto industry.
It was Jenkins that was credited with designing the 2016 Mazda CX-3. At the Los Angeles auto show, Jenkins talked to me about the CX-3 and took us through the interior of the car and the thought process of creating this new vehicle.
Jenkins absence was so conspicuous at the launch of the CX-3 that many people asked about him. Jason Fogelson interviewed Jenkins for his book, 100 things for every Gearhead to do before they die. In the book, Jenkins talks about his childhood and where his desire to be a car designer came from, his favorite vehicle and his favorite gearhead experiences.
There have been rumors that Jenkins was going to Google or Apple, but an inside source said that was probably not the case.
Jenkins did send out a letter to friends and business associates thanking them for his time at Mazda. Tom Matano, a designer for the original Mazda Miata, was surprised by Jenkins leaving as well, “It was a surprise to me for him leaving… I wouldn’t even guess where he is going…. Nor speculate. He did a great job for Mazda, and he was the right guy to lead the team that I started. I wish him the best for his next adventure.”