BMW Blog had the chance to interview Adrian Van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of the BMW Group. Van Hooydonk talks about the BMW 6 Series Coupe Concept, the new X3 Sports Activity Vehicle, BMW design language, and future plans for mobility.Here are some excerpts from the interview:

BMWBLOG: What will BMW do next for styling? We believe the new F10 5 series adheres to a more classic, conservative BMW design theme, as opposed to its more radical predecessor, the E60. Will we see more radical design language in the future, or will BMW continue down this more conservative styling path?

Adrian Van Hooydonk: If you look at our history, it has always stood for lightweight, very well proportioned, dynamic and elegant cars. I think that’s what you see now, in this new generation. Ten years ago BMW made a big change and it was only to widen the design vocabulary. Once we had done that, we felt that we were okay again. The generation of cars we’re doing now, the 7, the 5 and the new 6; we believe they are a perfect balance between dynamics and elegance.

The lines are still sharp and the way we are doing it, it’s not softer or more conservative; when you look at our design from 20 or 30 meters away, it’s not complicated, you only see two or three lines in the new 6 Series for example, but when you walk up close and you walk around the car, you see how carefully, how complex the surfaces are crafted because is really is very complicated. I think in this generation you see how much we’ve learned from the past. I think there’s no car company I know that is able to do this type of complex surfacing, but when you do this surfacing and make it look easy, that means you’ve mastered the design language, and that’s our goal.

Of course, the cars should be beautiful.

The new 6 Series coupe seems to have a very lean, muscular design over the existing 6 Series which you’ve designed. Was there a specific design point that you chose to address in the new car?

Adrian Van Hooydonk: The 6 Series is very successful. The 6 Series that I ended up designing, that was sort of a relaunch of the 6, it had been away for about ten years and we had the 8 Series in between. The 6er that I designed was and is very successful in the market for eight years and I think when you look at the design today, it doesn’t look like it’s eight years old, if I may say so myself.

Market success proves that.

But inevitably the time comes around when you must do the next generation and when the time came to sit around and think about what we wanted to do for the new car we said well, we want to develop it in a way to make it more sporty and more elegant. We made it more elegant by improving the proportions. The wheelbase got longer, the car got a little wider, the car got a little lower – that cannot be wrong for a car, for a BMW. To make it more sporty, you can immediately see it when you look at the front of the car, the headlamps, the lower bumper, the kidneys are even lower and wider – all of these things make the car more sporty.

At the rear, the car looks a lot wider. It is wider, but for instance through the design of the tail lamps which are very wide and very flat, we make the car look twice as wide. So all of these things we talked about in the beginning, and that is why the car looks like that. Not because we were unhappy with the previous one, we found a lot of happy customers with the previous car, but if you can make a car more sporty and more elegant and it is the top of the line coupe for BMW – that’s a good direction to take.

BMWBLOG: The new 6 Series looks to embody all of the design cues from BMW’s latest models. With so much competition in this price range, do you think the most important aspect of design is on the interior or exterior of the car?

Adrian Van Hooydonk: In my experience, the interior is what keeps the customer buying your product, the exterior is what gets them interested at first because the exterior is the first thing you see. If they have already driven a 6 Series or another BMW and they have ‘lived’ in it for I don’t know how many years, that is what decides whether they will buy your product again.

Both are extremely important – we talked about what we’ve done to the exterior, making it more sporty and more elegant – we did the same thing on the interior. The interior is more sporty because there is more driver orientation. If you look at the dashboard, you will see a line starting at the top of the dashboard coming all the way to the center console, so the whole interior is very asymmetrical, even more than in the 5.
“The interior is more sporty because there is more driver orientation”

Driver orientation is very important for any BMW, because BMWs are made for people that like to drive, but of course in the 6 Series being the top of the line sports car, it’s even more important. Then there is very modern detailing, very interesting things. If you look at the door panels and the flow of the line in the door panel coming from the dashboard, I think that is extremely elegant, very subtle. And the way we’ve dealt with the computer screen uses very modern detail.

Up until now in our cars we have integrated the computer screen into the dashboard, but on the 6 series it looks like a flat screen, and it is. It’s standing free of the dashboard. There are two reasons: first of all we were able to make the dashboard much lower and you feel you can look out of the car much better, and of course everyone has flat screens at home right now, it is the way of the future. Cell phones keep getting thinner, so that I believe is a very nice and modern detail to the interior.

BMWBLOG: The new 5 and 6 Series were introduced to the consumers, what is next for BMW?

Adrian Van Hooydonk: Many things, as you can imagine, but the 6 Series that we’re showing here is a preview, it’s a concept but it is very close to what it will be like, so next for us is the launch of the production car, which is actually for BMW quite a significant event because it’s a top of the line car.

Then, next year is going to be very interesting as well, there are a lot of new car launches, but we will get into that once we’re there because here in Paris, we already have lots of new stuff on display. We have the new X3 which is an important car for the brand and we have the new 6 Series preview.

BMWBLOG: Tell us more about BMW’s future in electric vehicles and how will this fit with the “Ultimate Driving Machine” brand.

Adrian Van Hooydonk: It’s going to be fun to drive. Don’t forget that electric cars, if we talk about electric cars – they have phenomenal acceleration, it’s not gradual, it is instant all the way.

So whatever we’re going to do, and we are going to do an electric vehicle for 2013, the Megacity vehicle, it will be a fun driving experience. We’re going to make sure of that. Electric mobility is not the only thing we will be doing in the future, we expect by the year 2020 15% or so, 25% at most will be electric, so that still means that the majority of vehicles will have other means of propulsion, and we’re pretty good at that too, so we’re not going to forget that. All we’re doing is making sure that our customers will have a choice, that they will never be prevented from going anywhere they want to go. “Whatever we’re going to do, it’s going to be premium and it’s going to be fun.”

Source: BMW Blog