GM: Does current BMW design constitute an evolution of themes started during Chris Bangle’s tenure, or is your vision for the brand a break from the past?
AVH: BMW design is more precise than ever. Ten years ago we developed a design language to be expanded. Each car is recognizable as a BMW but has its own identity. BMW design uses elegant proportions, with modern, clean and sharp lines, and can be easily understood. It is important that they look like they’re moving.
AVH: BMWs are designed to look authentic, premium and efficient. Each new BMW is more powerful and efficient, for which aerodynamic design is important.
GM: In the past some cars within the same brand had different fascias. Why has the ‘corporate face’ become so important in recent years and does it hinder better design?
AVH: It is not a limitation. A global premium brand needs consistency. Customers know what a BMW should look like, and we need to keep developing BMW design language.
AVH: BMW’s i sub-brand can be sharper in what they express BMW however constitutes the best compromise between the performance of its M division and efficiency of the i sub-brand.
GM: Will the M1 Homage see production or is the i8 to be the only mid-engine BMW?
AVH: Time will tell if that will happen. However the BMW i8 will redefine the super car by next year.
GM: Will BMW’s performance M division use full lightweight carbon fiber frames like the coming BMW i3?
AVH: It’s too early to tell if carbon fiber will be used to that extent for BMW M.
AVH: The 7-Series is important in many markets and lots of time and effort has gone into its design. It is now more iconic with more details, precision and refinement.
GM: BMW has traditionally been known for its sporty saloons. How do new city cars and MPVs fit into that inheritance?
AVH: BMW offers driving pleasure in different sizes and forms that are still capable. These models help grow the brand and expand the BMW formula.
GM: Is it likely that Mini might re-introduce a flat-nose design like the original Clubman and 1275GT models?
AVH: Mini has expanded and grown and become more exciting, but the mini core will always be recognizable. Mini has interesting new concepts and there is a strong untapped potential.
GM: Are there any plans or have there been any design studies for a resurrected Triumph (brand name currently owned by BMW), perhaps using a Mini platform or a Dolomite based on a 3-Series?
AVH: No, we’re quite happy with the current portfolio of BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce. It is easy enough to design a new brand but creating one needs a lot more.
GM: What is your favorite classic BMW?
AVH: The 3.0CSI (E9 platform, 1968-75). It incorporates the whole design DNA that we still use today.