Pierre Leclercq became Citroen's design head last November, succeeding Alexandre Malval, who now works for Daimler. The Belgian-born Leclercq, 46, started his career at Ford's Ghia studio in Italy, then spent more than a dozen years at BMW Group. In 2013 he was named design director at Great Wall Motors in China, then moved to Kia Motors as design director in 2017. Leclercq spoke with Automotive News Europe correspondent Peter Sigal at the VivaTech technology show in Paris about his vision for Citroen.
Why did you choose to show the new 19_19 concept at VivaTech here in Paris instead of a traditional auto show?
Viva Tech seems to be right for this car. It's not only about design -- it's about a vision for the company. In the car industry, we're facing big decisions because of new technologies that might change the industry completely. We will create amazing services, solve problems for people, give you the possibility of using hours lost in traffic every day for something else. And we will still make exciting, emotional cars. I truly believe this.
How do the 19_19 and Citroen's other new concept, the Ami One, relate to Citroen designs of the past?
These two concepts were always conceived as a pair. They express values of Citroen that haven't changed. In the 1950s you had the 2 CV, which was something extremely economical, and had amazing industrial solutions that made it cheaper to build, and you could bring something to people that they really needed for a very low price. On the other hand, at the same time, you had the DS. It was a spaceship, it was a real UFO, at the summit of comfort. Citroen at the time had the ability to have the two bookends, the popular and the exclusive. The ability of Citroen to create something small for mobility -- you can see that in the Ami One. Then, in the 19_19, you have the "UFO" that's extremely comfortable, with superb aerodynamics -- that's something that also with the DS.
What do these concepts mean for future Citroen designs?
We create extreme concepts like these for many reasons, including to inspire us at Citroen, to inspire our designers, to inspire maybe even the car industry. And, of course, the people who view it. The 19_19's shape is soft and simple, but then we have some parts of it that are very much product design and not auto design, and that's something that we at Citroen will continue to look for.