VW group design future

Published: 23 June 2008

VW Group’s Design Director Walter De Silva shed light on the future direction of Volkswagen design during a lecture earlier this week at the old Fiat Lingotto factory in Turin.

Where are they going then?

Extolling his own thoughts on design amid the current world – “constraints are what promotes creativity” – he described VW as being immersed in a process of defining their design language as Audi had already done to achieve the quality and diversity necessary. Audi design DNA was “understood by everyone in the company” he said, “right down to the smallest details”.

VW design would “return to simple (design) language that’s easy to understand – a clear hierarchy of grilles and rear-end treatments”. Key words and phrases had been coined during the process, he said, such as timeless, consistent, unique, responsible, history, quality, solidity, simplicity and coherent design transmitting responsibility; there was talk of VW design reflecting social evolution.

Any pretty pictures to explain?

Yes, his words were reinforced by a series of sketches showing well known VW cars – an original Beetle, Golfs, a previous generation (v5.0) Passat – their key elements such as the arc of the roof or the C pillar highlighted in blue. He also presented thematic sketches showing a development trail of generic VW proportions: strong, rounded forms with a Germanic heft reminiscent of the mk4 Golf. There should he said, pointing to the aforementioned Passat, be a “balance and elegance in the VW architecture: a clear relationship between the mass of the body and of the greenhouse, especially in profile”.

Having seen the considerable simplification of the Scirroco front end from concept to reality, and with the Passat facelift expected to contain less chrome when it pitches next year, it all points to a much simpler, bolder and more geometric future for VW design.

What about the state of design at Sant Agata?

Referring to Lamborghini as the ‘extreme sports’ in the VW group’s luxury portfolio, De Silva summarized his feelings as: “I feel a Lamborghini before I see it. I hear a sound – a dream” and classified his design keywords for the brand as a closed front end; angular surfaces; provocative; extreme and extrovert. His words were reinforced by Design Head Manfred Fitzgerald, who strongly hinted that the Reventon – the design of which predated the recently launched Gallardo LP560-4 – would continue to influence future product, specifically the arrow nose and forward projecting air intakes.

And what about the next V12 supercar?

Affable Chief Engineer Maurizio Reggiani was unwilling to say anything about its construction other than “Composite materials will be most important in the future – especially cheaper ones” and “the power to weight ratio is key, and everything we can do to get the weight down is vital to the project”, reinforcing the belief that Lamborghini will finally abandon its traditional welded steel chassis in the pursuit of strength with lightness.

He also insisted that “four-wheel drive is in the Lamborghini DNA and will form the basis of all future development”, but perhaps after the much-rumoured Murcielago SV, while suggesting that with the e-gear transmission they still had “a big amount of improvement in our pockets for the future”. And what of a dual clutch transmission? “We have top performance in 0-100kph with our cars, I don’t understand why we’d want to change anything” was his cheery reply…

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