The new Beetle wastes valuable space for a nostalgic shape. How does a stylish car fit into the VW concept?
The Beetle is the continuation of the original Beetle and reflects a less rational, more emotional approach. As you know, the Concept 1 was originally not planned for sale. As a consequence of the study's success, we made it ready for serial production. Now, it is a nice, comfortable contribution to VW, an emotional piece in the big cake.
A young person's car?
Yes, the car is young and fresh. We describe it as the new sportiness. Actually, the meaning has changed and is less connected with performance than with youth.
Will there also be a convertible?
We have discussed this many times and there is still a possibility. Until now, no decision has been made.
The new dome roof is celebrated as a VW innovation. Haven't we seen this somewhere before?
I know what you are talking about (laughs). I think that the dome roof is a logical step forward from those absolutely flat roofs of the past. Personally, I have done this with many cars, more and more extreme. Surely, it has nothing to do with the old Beetle; its shape was accidental... Oh, I remember now. The round roof was there already 50 years ago! (laughs).
In this sense, we have brought it back again. For me, all formal messages are subject to certain wave-movements. After the color red was 'in' for a long time, we moved to green. This is what I call a wave-movement. So it was just a matter of time until these soapy cars turned out tighter and more characterfull.
So, the dome roof is mainly a design element?
A roof with a round shape has certain aerodynamic advantages, but somewhere the disadvantages start, because the drift-off gets changed. So it is primarily a design element.
You are responsible for the design of VWs. Do you still influence Audi? Audi design chief Peter Schreyer was once in your team.
Peter Schreyer is very independent at Audi. As head of the Center of Excellence for Audi, as well as for Seat and Skoda, I am able to influence things. I restrain myself and use this opportunity quite rarely. If there was anything going on I could not agree to, I would try to talk with Schreyer.
Did you influence the novel front of the new A6?
Yes, I did. Mercedes has been practising a corporate identity for decades. With Audi, we just started three or four years ago. It took us a long time to find an acceptable face for the Audi. From my point of view, it had to be preserved, before bigger changes took place.
A great deviation from the existing Audi front was too dangerous. With its present front, Audi will be fine for a while.
Did you worry about shocking conservative customers?
No. I believe in creating a brand image. This is more important to me than any innovation.
Describe VW design.
VW has made outstanding contributions to good design. The Beetle has been unique for decades without any revolutionary changes and without getting old. It has been replaced by the Golf, which followed the Beetle's footsteps by having only evolutionary changes over decades, yet staying modern and progressive.
Building on these two pillars, it was necessary only to correct less successful models. The Passat has certainly not had the strength of the Golf. In this sense, it is one car that has to be optimized in the future.
Does the new Passat embody the new sportiness of VW design?
Yes. The Golf, for instance, is so strong that future changes will remain evolutionary. I think it is important to understand weak and strong elements consciously and to work on them. That means that strong cars should not be changed lightly; weak cars can be done more radically. But consciously, please, not accidentally!
It appears the new Passat Variant will be a big success. Is this success a result of the exterior shape?
The Variant had strong characteristics and they have been recognized. They were respected by me, too. From this viewpoint, we created the success by adapting many details of the old model. It has been a success, so why should we fundament