Currently reading: Designer Andreas Mindt: how to make Volkswagen “the nice guys” again
Design boss Andreas Mindt reveals new recipe for company’s new cars as it seeks to recapture a Golf-based mojo

Volkswagen design boss Andreas Mindt has quickly outlined his vision for the marque with the ID 2all and the ID GTI concepts, which show a return to a more friendly and familiar design look for VW.

Coming as part of its goal to be a ‘loved brand’ once more, production versions will go on sale in 2025.

Mindt, who has been in his current position for less than a year, was one of the key designers of the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf, and rejoined Volkswagen after moving to other brands within the group.

He led exterior design at Audi and was design chief at Bentley in his two most recent roles. Here, he tells Autocar his plans for this new design philosophy that sees the firm return to being “the nice guys”.

He says: “We’re a ‘love’ brand, with trustable design, a strong identity and authenticity and built on three pillars: stable, likeable and with a ‘secret sauce’, which is about delivering more than people expect and with a sense of humour.”

Q&A with Andreas Mindt, VW Group head of design

The ID 2all is a very European car. Is global design a thing of the past?

“Global design became complicated and unnecessary. Current ID line-up has a global design feel but that will change We now have seven regions with specific portfolios: Europe, South America, North America, FAW in China, SAIC in China [the last two are joint ventures], our own new design centre upcoming in China and our sub-brand in China for Jetta.

"Even in China, all tastes are different, the traffic looks different, the people look different: it’s like travelling between Finland and Portugal. We have the same values across the world but certain design elements are different. You don’t put your fishing rod in the same lake.”

Were the ID 3, ID 4 and ID 5 created as global cars?

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“I think so, yes. Maybe the thinking has changed over the years. China changes every year and every time you go there, you don’t believe what you see, especially after Covid.

“You fly back to Germany and it feels like a medieval country! You have to change your approach to that.”

Will the ID 2 make it to China?

“There is not a plan, no. The physical buttons [in the interior, below the touchscreen] have no relevance in China.”

Where does the ID 2 sit alongside the Golf?

“With ID 2all, we wanted to create a true, proper Volkswagen. This was the task we had. We did the analysis of our brand and what it stood for and came up with our three values [stable, likeable, secret sauce] and that matches a Golf from 50 years ago.

“This was our base and we did a design to match that. The ID 2all was the result. It looks like a Golf [today and in the future] but also with elements of the Mk4 Golf, the original Beetle.

“When you analyse what needs to be done for a proper VW, you come back to a Golf.”

You have history yourself designing the Golf…

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“I was in a team that worked on the Golf 7. A team of three of us led it: Philipp Römers [now Audi exterior design boss], Marc Lichte [now Audi design boss] and myself. We were fighting like hell for this car.

“The idea with it was to combine all the best bits of generations of the Golf, baked into one model. I can talk for two hours to explain why the Golf Mk7 is on the spot.”

How does the cost of the ID 2all interior work out compared with an existing car with its simplified design but higher-quality materials?

“[The cost] might stay the same but we up the quality as you save costs with less complex interiors. The money you take out of it you put back into the materials.

“There are too many derivatives today, with the amount of colours and also wheels. We’re moving away from that, [personalisation to create] a different car for everyone. In the USA, you buy a car off the yard of a dealer.

“Nobody orders it. We’ll simplify and combine options with packages, so you don’t spend two hours on a configurator and have no idea what you’ve ordered. It is our task to reduce and I see design as part of that.

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“I’m most proud to get rid of the plastic parts, to get this close to production and not see cheap plastic parts. I learned this at Bentley, when you sit in it and feel wonderful because of the materials.

“Everything that looks leather is leather, metal is metal, wood is wood: authentic materials make you feel good.”

We’ve seen GTI in the EV era with the recent concept, but what about R?

“R is four-wheel drive, coming from history. It needs certain technical elements. In certain segments, it’s not possible as it needs 4WD and the best engine possible. GTI is smaller cars. GTI and R are different things for different customers.

“We had GTX, but there is a spirit about GTI that people get excited about. GTIs are jeans and trainers, useful and still smart, not a boy racer. R is a suit. I see Mk6 and Mk7 GTIs in white with the red stickers and I love them.”

Is there room for more specialist models in the Volkswagen range?

“Of course. But we need to do our homework and cover all the important segments and make them really good. That’s our number one goal now. But I have a lot of skunkworks.

“Often we do this and turn the result into a boring limousine, because you have to develop an idea. Sometimes we spend the week designing Lamborghinis together but then turn them into a VW and see the result.

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“Sometimes you need this. You need to change your roles to find new stuff or the whole team gets stuck swimming in your own soup and the results are all the same. You need to do stuff like that, creativity exercises. Even I need this myself to give a good result to everyday work.”

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Commenter 28 January 2024
The first and seventh generation golf are the only golfs that you can buy on looks alone, although if the id concept becomes golf that will make it three. As for turning Lamborghini into VW, how about turning the old cala concept into VW EV, as italdesign is considered inhouse.
jason_recliner 27 January 2024
Bwaaahahhaaahahaaa!!! Have they employed Premium McGovern?

VWs appeal to inferior bogans (chavs) who need to feel superior to other bogans.

catnip 26 January 2024

VW could start by showing a lot more respect for their paying customers.

Twin charger, DSG, the defeat device and the poor interior ergonomics of the ID range and recent models just show how the company is obsessed with being number one, rushing things to market before proper development has taken place, and sticking two fingers up at the buying public. They admitted this obsession after "dieselgate", but those words were quietly forgotten again. Unfortunately, they have such a slick marketing team that they continually seem to get away with it.