The Japanese were ridiculed by the west for producing amateurish vehicles when their cars first emerged internationally during the 1950s. Their cars largely imitated European and American designs. However by 1970s, the Japanese had already proven themselves as the makers of efficient, reliable and affordable vehicles that became popular all over the world.
Fast forward… the history is repeating itself, but this time it’s the Chinese. Emerged on the global automotive scenario during the previous decade, the Chinese cars were largely criticized due to poor crash-test results, lousy built quality and above all, largely pirated designs. Majority of Chinese cars that rolled out during the previous decade were blatant copy of popular European & Japanese vehicles.
However, quicker than Japanese, the Chinese within a decade have started to produce much better vehicles that are not only fuel efficient, safer & well-built, but better to look at too. China’s crash testing body CNCAP, is primarily modeled after the safety standards established by Euro NCAP. Also it is mandatory for a foreign vehicle manufacturer operating in China to transfer the technology to its Chinese partner, which has also helped the Chinese automakers to produce world-class vehicles in a very short time.
But this just doesn’t end here. Chinese automobile manufacturers have been rapidly hiring reputed western car designers. The result of which is development of some extremely good looking cars emerging from the Chinese soil. Below are the world renowned car designers who are now working with leading Chinese auto manufacturers.
Peter Horbury (From Volvo to Geely):
Geely’s acquisition of Volvo from Ford in 2010 has helped Geely quickly gain decades of R&D expertise from Volvo. Moreover, Volvo’s Ex Vice President of Design, Peter Horbury is currently heading Geely’s design department as Senior Vice-President & his influence is obvious since Geely has been producing some stunning vehicles lately.
Peter Horbury, has also provided Geely with a distinguishable design language, with a unique concentric grille design which has become a core identity of all Geely branded vehicles. Designed by Peter Horbury, the Geely GC9 was named as the ‘China Car of the Year 2016’, the first time for a Chinese domestic brand to win this award.
Peter Arcadipane (From Mercedes-Benz to BAIC):
China’s 5th largest automaker, Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC) hired Peter Arcadipane as its design director. The Australian born designer had previously worked with Mercedes-Benz, and had penned the CL, CLS and M-Class models. Before this, Arcadipane has spent two years in Shenzhen designing the Denza EV.
Hakan Saracoglu (From Porsche to Chery)
Chery’s claim to fame was the popular QQ hatchback, which was an alleged Daewoo Matiz knock-off. But that’s history, modern Chery vehicles are outstanding to say the least, why? Because Chery Automobile hired former Porsche stylist Hakan Saracoglu as its corporate director of design.
Hakan Saracoglu had been with Porsche since 1998, and he showed his abilities on the 997-series Porsche 911 GT2 and GT2 RS, previous-generation Boxster and Cayman and the 918 Spyder.
Andreas Deufel (From Mercedes-Benz to Great Wall Motors)
Andreas Deufel has officially been the Director of Design at Great Wall Motors (GWM) in China since 2011. He is responsible for GWM’s three design studios at Nanhui/Shanghai, Wuxi/Jiangsu and Boa Ding/Hebei.
Over the span of his career, he has been responsible for the first generation A3, the V8 DTM and the A4 Avant ‘Kamm Heck’ during his tenure as Creative Designer Exterior at Audi. He was then heavily involved in the development of the facelift of the W210 E-Class, the R230 SL-Class, the Maybach, R170 SLK, C208 CLK, W 203, ML-, GL-, R- and G-Class and the Pope’s Landaulet while employed as Creative Designer Exterior/Interior at Mercedes-Benz, Sindelfingen.
Dimitri Vicedomini (From Pininfarina to Brilliance)
Dimitri Vicedomini joined Brilliance Automotive as its Design Director in 2012, following his previous position as Chief Designer at Pininfarina. Within his long history at the renowned Italian design house he was involved in projects including the Ferrari FF, the Enzo and the new F12 Berlinetta as well as the Maserati Gran Turismo and other models.
Chris Bangle (Changan)
American automobile designer, Chris Bangle who is best known for his work as Chief of Design for BMW Group, where he was responsible for the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce motor cars, now consults for China’s Changan automobiles since 2014.
Chris Bangle has been engaged by Changan’s European Design Center of Turin (Italy) as a strategic design consultant exclusively for their products in the Chinese market. Chris Bangle will work with the Changan European Design team on design innovation, methodologies, and philosophy; management processes, as well as on current design’s critique.
According to Chris Bangle:
“I have been following with sincere interest the developments of Changan in the last years, and I am particularly impressed by their activities in Italy. Their work in Turin with local talent, the growth of their design center, and the connection with this historical hub of Italian car design are extraordinary; this is one of the reasons why I am keen on starting this collaboration”.
Wolfgang Egger (from Audi to BYD)
In 2017, Audi Group chief designer Wolfgang Egger, took charge as Director Design and Development of BYD, the Chinese automobile manufacturer once known for design piracy.
BYD ranks among the top 10 largest selling automobile brands in China. BYD also has the pride to mass produce world’s first ever plug-in hybrid vehicle, the F3DM. In 2015, BYD Auto was the best selling global electric vehicle brand, ahead of General Motors and Nissan. For a second year running, BYD was the world’s top selling plug-in electric car manufacturer with over 100,000 units delivered in 2016, followed by Tesla Motors. In October 2016, BYD Auto became the all-time second largest global plug-in car manufacturer after the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
Egger has defined the new corporate face of the BYD vehicle family known as the ‘Dragon Face’. At the presentation of his first work at BYD, the Dynasty concept, Egger said:
Joining BYD provides an opportunity to help a young brand develop its design DNA as it looks to expand its global footprint. This concept vehicle will take BYD’s consumer vehicles in an exciting new direction, with design cues like its dragon-inspired exterior drawing inspiration from China’s rich cultural heritage.
Wolfgang Egger, aged 54, became chief designer of Audi in April 2007, and was responsible for Audi and Lamborghini brand designs. Prior to joining Audi, Wolfgang Egger was Design Director in Alfa Romeo for nearly 18 years. He is also credited with the gorgeous design of the limited Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
Filippo Perini (FAW)
Filippo Perini is an Italian automotive designer who is currently the Design Director of Italdesign since 2016. He was an ex-designer/ design director of Alfa Romeo , then moved to Audi , then worked for Lamborghini from 2004 to 2016. He is notably famous for his designs including the Alfa Romeo GTV (1995), Alfa Romeo Spider (2006), Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione (2006), Lamborghini Miura Concept (2006), Lamborghini Reventón (2007), Lamborghini Estoque (2008), Lamborghini Aventador (2011), Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera (2010), Lamborghini Urus (2012), Lamborghini Aventador J (2012) 2 , Lamborghini Veneno (2013) and Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 (2014).
Filipo Perini via Italdesign is currently working closely with FAW for designing the new breed of FAW’s Junpai branded vehicles. The FAW A50 sedan is the latest vehicle coming out from Filipo Perini’s portfolio.