Volkswagen Group Design Director Walter de' Silva says the German automaker's attention to detail is so extreme that its production cars look even better than its styling models.
“In the past, styling models always lost some of their appeal when turned into production models, because of feasibility or manufacturing issues,” de' Silva told Automotive News Europe at the introduction of the U.S. version of the VW Passat in Detroit earlier this month.
That has changed because he says VW CEO Martin Winterkorn “truly believes that design adds value to the product.”
De' Silva credits Winterkorn's “maniacal” attention to detail for the change, adding that the sixth-generation VW Golf is the first VW brand model that looks better than the styling model it was derived from.
Winterkorn brought this design philosophy to Audi in 2002, when he was named CEO of the luxury brand. At the time, de' Silva was Audi design chief. When Winterkorn and then de' Silva moved to parent VW in 2007, they applied Audi's design philosophy to all the group's brands.
De' Silva, 59, may be the most powerful design chief in the world.
He oversees the design activities of VW's eight car brands, and last year he added design responsibility for Porsche AG and truckmakers Scania of Sweden and MAN of Germany.
At Porsche, redesigns for the current Boxster and 911 sports cars already are complete, so de' Silva says that Porsche's first medium crossover, code-named Cajun, “will be the first new Porsche created under my influence.”
The Cajun, which is due in 2014, is part of Porsche's plans to expand its four-model lineup to double global sales to 150,000 units.
De' Silva said he has had “preliminary meetings” with the design bosses of Scania and MAN.