Design chief becomes the latest big name executive to leave VW
Mark Tisshaw
6 November 2015

Volkswagen Group design chief Walter de Silva will leave the company at the end of the month.

The designer will retire after 17 years at the VW Group, which has included stints as design chief of Audi, Lamborghini and Seat. He had led the Group’s overall design since 2007.

A replacement for the sixty-four-year-old designer, who is also well known from a 12-year stint at Alfa Romeo in the 1980s and 90s, has not yet been announced.

However, whether or not de Silva, a close confidant of former VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn, will actually be replaced full time is likely up for debate itself as VW looks to trim costs in the fallout of emissions scandal.

The German business paper Handelsblatt reported today that VW was looking at reduce the annual design budget of €100 million, according to Automotive News Europe.

De Silva will retain an advisory role at the Group after he leaves. He is exiting all posts at the VW Group, including as president of Italdesign Giugiaro, a role he only took on in September.

He did not have a comment attributed to him in a VW statement announcing his departure, although new VW Group CEO Matthias Muller paid tribute to de Silva’s work.

Read the latest on the VW scandal here

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Comments
25

6 November 2015
Audi and Lamborghini are the only VW brands that can be accused to have any design albeit I still can't tell one Audi from another. The rest are merely regurgitations of various decades old designs from other car makers.

9 November 2015
is that, as news goes, this story is equivalent to Autocar reporting that a deckchair has slipped off the Titanic.

9 November 2015
fadyady wrote:

Audi and Lamborghini are the only VW brands that can be accused to have any design albeit I still can't tell one Audi from another. The rest are merely regurgitations of various decades old designs from other car makers.

I can't tell one generation Audi from the next. The only difference was when they put the full length grille across the range about 10 years ago. I know it is evolutionary etc. and probably helps residual values, but it is lazy design.

6 November 2015
I don't know how much contribution, if any, Walter da Silva personally made to the design of the Golf 7. Whoever actually designed it, for me it is a great shape, where all details work together (like the equally accomplished Golf 4). Lambo designs still need taming. After more than a decade under VW, with sober Germanic design inputs, some of the wilder design motifs are still not working together as a whole. Skoda designs on the other hand are distinctive and cohesive. So overall these are good years under da Silva.

9 November 2015
abkq wrote:

I don't know how much contribution, if any, Walter da Silva personally made to the design of the Golf 7. Whoever actually designed it, for me it is a great shape, where all details work together (like the equally accomplished Golf 4). Lambo designs still need taming. After more than a decade under VW, with sober Germanic design inputs, some of the wilder design motifs are still not working together as a whole. Skoda designs on the other hand are distinctive and cohesive. So overall these are good years under da Silva.

Golf designs are just previous generation tweaked with slightly different headlights.

9 November 2015
Golf designs are just previous generation tweaked with slightly different headlights.[/quote]

Not true - Golf 5 had a pronounced wedge shape and rounded motif. Golf 6 got rid of the wedge but retained the rounded forms which are at odds with the more formal shape (for me the weakest Golf generation aesthetically) Golf 7 is all about taut surfacing, sharp creases and angles. This is a quote from Steve Cropley's interview with de Silva: "We discussed the Golf design language at length, particularly the way that the Mk6 Golf had wrap-around headlamps and taillights, breaking the rules set by the previous models. ‘I will fix things with the Mk7’ - and so he did and produced a masterpiece!

TS7

6 November 2015
... I wouldn't buy a VW even if they didn't major on diseasels.

6 November 2015
Autocar wrote:

VW was looking at reduce the annual design budget of €100 million

Wow toner ain't so cheap, these days. Maybe they can cut a deal with Xerox?

8 November 2015
Norma Smellons wrote:
Autocar wrote:

VW was looking at reduce the annual design budget of €100 million

Wow toner ain't so cheap, these days. Maybe they can cut a deal with Xerox?

Can't be doing with people who poke fun at the expertise of designers, no matter how much they dislike the designs. Plain disrespectful.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

7 November 2015
But it's just impossible to shrink a larger car a certain % to make a smaller car without making the headroom too limited or the wheels too small, for example. All the elements have to be carefully rebalanced, failure to do so will make the derived model look wrong eg. the transformation from the elegant S class to the oddly proportioned C class (as seen from the side). Audi tends to use the same design theme but that most Audis manage to look well balanced is probably the result of good leadership. De Silva designed the universally admired Alfa 156 after all.

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