The paper presents the work on the development of a joint design approach for adhesively bonded and spot-welded aluminium automotive structures. The approach includes an allowance for joint geometric variables, manufacturing variability and complex joint loading. An important aspect in the development of the approach has been to minimise the detail required to model the joints in a full vehicle model. The paper describes the development of the joint design approach and identifies many of the joint variables which may influence joint performance. The accuracy of the approach is demonstrated on a simple structure subjected to complex loading, and the use of the approach is illustrated on a full vehicle structure.