Volkswagen Group is becoming a design-driven company: Group CEO Oliver Blume

Design is set to become a key pillar in the company’s operations in the future and will provide more consistent brand message and greater brand differentiation, says CEO.

By Ketan Thakkar calendar 04 Sep 2023 Views icon3670 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

With an investment of 180 billion euros (Rs 15,81,840 crore) lined up for the next five years and an accelerated shift towards electric mobility, “Design” will become a key strategic pillar for the 280-billion-euro Volkswagen Group in the coming years.  

Announcing this new direction, CEO Oliver Blume presented the key findings on realignment of the Volkswagen Group and set the path for the German carmaker’s future design strategy at the Group's Media Night in Munich on Sunday ahead of IAA 2023 Motor Show, which opens tomorrow.

Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume at the media night on September 3. 

‘Success by Design’ was the overriding theme for an evening function attended by several hundred journalists from around the world. Taking a holistic approach, the company has increased the importance of design for the business – from the corporate identity through to products and digital offerings. Up to now, brand design was organizationally assigned to technical development.

In order to empower design in the overall corporate significance for the group, the design heads of each brand will move even closer to the respective CEO in the future, the CEO enumerated.  

The direct exchange with the brand CEO is supposed to promote a holistic implementation of the design principles for a coherent brand experience – from corporate identity to products to digital offerings of each brand. The focus will be consistently on the customer and the product.

"Good design is an essential factor in delighting our customers. With sharpened design identities, we design striking products and increase the differentiation of the brands. In their exterior, interior and digital experience. Volkswagen Group is becoming a design-driven company,” said Blume.

Based on the sharpened design principles, each brand has developed its own design language that translates its brand values into specific brand experiences in the interior, exterior and digital design.

TEN-POINT PLAN YIELDS TANGIBLE RESULTS

The event coincided with Oliver Blume’s first anniversary as CEO of the Volkswagen Group.

Since Blume took the helm in September 2022, the Group has successfully executed some pivotal initiatives, including a refined portfolio plan for CARIAD under its new leadership team, a redesigned platform strategy and competitive technology profile, the ramp-up of PowerCo and its gigafactory expansion to Canada. 

The Group forged ahead with the ‘in China for China’ strategy with local partners with a stronger focus on sustainability.

The rollout of an integrated mobility platform and a closer engagement with the capital markets were also some of the key strategic initiatives delivered during the year.

There were also quality improvement programs and a restructured product strategy to position the entire Group for sustainable success, primarily focusing on value-creating growth, said the company in a statement.

The design heads of the brands with the group CEO: Christian Schreiber, Bentley; Andreas Mindt, Volkswagen Pkw; Marc Lichte, Audi; Jorge Diez, CUPRA; Albert Kirzinger, Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge; Oliver Blume, CEO Volkswagen Group; Michael Mauer, Porsche und Leitung Konzerndesign; Mitja Borkert, Lamborghini; Andrea Ierraresi, Ducati; Stephan Schönherr, MAN Trucks; and Oliver Stefani, Skoda.

DESIGN AS THE KEY DIFFERENTIATOR

At Group Night, the design heads showcased these differentiated brand identities in their respective presentation areas.

Two days before the official start of the IAA 2023 Motor Show, the Volkswagen Group unveiled the vision to more than 400 guests from international media to its pre-show event at the Eisbach Studios, a renowned location for movie production.

With more than 100 million customers worldwide, Blume reiterated strong brands with a clear differentiation were key to success. This is why Volkswagen Group would become a design-driven company.

He underlined the importance of design in creating an emotional connection with customers.

The design of models is one of the most crucial factors that decides the success of a group's brands, he said.

“Each brand needs its own strong personality. Our refined design principles aim for higher design quality and stronger differentiation of the brands, with our design strategy relying on the further development of established model series, technological lighthouse projects for electric vehicles, and iconic products of the Volkswagen Group,” the Group CEO added.

The Group's dedication to design excellence was underscored by Michael Mauer, Head of Group Design and Head of Porsche Design, who detailed the strategic role of design in shaping brand identity, consistency, and innovation.

In times when traditional unique selling propositions are becoming less important, design takes centre stage as one of the most important differentiating factors between brands. Design works. Because it translates what a brand is at its core, where it comes from, where it's going and what makes it unique.

People automatically relate to a brand through design because it communicates with them as an emotional language. In Volkswagen Group’s multi-brand universe, with customers ranging from the Ducati pilot to the Scania trucker, each brand needs its own strong personality, with a unique and distinctive character,” pointed out Mauer said.

The Volkswagen ID. GTI concept, with electronic front differential and progressive steering, is the GTI for the electric era.   

GLOBAL PREMIERE FOR VOLKSWAGEN ID. GTI CONCEPT

As part of this new direction, the Group unveiled the Volkswagen ID. GTI Concept, which marks the next chapter in the iconic GTI legacy.

Andreas Mindt, chief designer at Volkswagen Passenger Cars, demonstrated the design principles that transfer the DNA of the GTI into the electric era:

“The Volkswagen brand has a rich heritage. Stability, likeability, and excitement are what makes Volkswagen a love brand — and it’s also the DNA of our performance models,” added Mindt.  

Blending German engineering with cutting-edge technology, the ID. GTI Concept exemplifies the Group's commitment to electrification without compromising on performance, design, and the emotional connection that defines the GTI, the statement from the company added.

Cupra DarkRebel all-electric two-seater concept, which has illumination as a key design element, sports wide shoulders, a low bonnet and a low cabin. 

CUPRA's PROVOCATIVE DESIGN

As a contrast to Volkswagen, a brand with a long tradition, Jorge Diez, Chief Designer at Cupra, presented the Cupra DarkRebel, a show car that pushes boundaries and even questions the way that cars will be designed and created for future generations, claimed the German conglomerate.  

Born only five years ago, Cupra demonstrates what is possible for a brand with no history: the DarkRebel showcar breaks design norms with its striking lines, dynamic proportions, and distinctive features. Created in collaboration with the brand’s global community, the CUPRA Tribe, the design of the car incorporates feedback from more than 270,000 online configurations.

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