A Lichte guide: meeting with Audi’s chief designer Car News

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Lichte thinks Audi icons represent his “Vorsprung durch Technik” philosophy in different ways, but it’s too early to say how the E-tron GT will do it.

Seven years after the start of his tenure as Audi’s chief design officer, Marc Lichte takes up the challenge of bringing the company into the era of electric propulsion and autonomous technology.

Designing radical Audi cars is nothing new for Marc Lichte. He has been doing this for most of his life. “I used to draw pictures when I was a young boy,” he says. “I’ve always dreamed of becoming an automotive designer – and, really, an Audi designer.”

That said, the transition from doodling growing up in the West German town of Arnsberg to actual Audi design took a little longer than Lichte had envisioned.

He remembers: “When I was studying design [at the Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences], I received sponsorship from Audi. Hartmut Warkuß got me a contract, but at the end of my studies he had moved with Mr. [Ferdinand] Piëch in Wolfsburg to become head of design at Volkswagen.

“I said: ‘Mr Warkuß, I want to start in Ingolstadt.’ But he told me that for two or three years I had to follow him to Wolfsburg and then I could go to Ingolstadt. It took me 17 years in Wolfsburg, but luckily it happened in 2014. I love it. I like what I’m doing here. I love the brand and want to take Audi to the next level.

To be clear, Lichte didn’t spend 17 miserable years trying to escape Volkswagen: it was a very successful career, eventually becoming Head of Exterior Design. In this role, he shaped three generations of Golf (five, six and seven), the Touareg and the Arteon. And his roundabout route to Ingolstadt also meant that his arrival seven years ago came at a pivotal moment for Audi and the wider auto industry.

Lichte’s first Audi project was the Prologue Concept, which foresaw the fourth generation of the A8 to arrive in 2017. And since then he has led the company into the electric age with the E-tron SUV and the E -tron GT.

Lichte is particularly proud of the low-slung fastback that launched earlier this year, describing it as “without a doubt the most attractive car I have designed with my team in my career”. It will set the tone for the cars that will make Audi an all-electric brand, after confirmation that it will launch its last combustion engine car in 2026.

“I’ve been with Audi for seven years now, and every three years we take a design step,” Lichte explains. We did this when I first got there with the A8 and now we have done it with the E-tron GT and the Q4 E-tron.

As the industry and the car buying public continue to adapt to an exclusively EV mindset, Lichte says: “Today and in the past, we have had the challenge of managing both ICEs and vehicles. VE.

We are not like Lucid, who creates an EV brand on a white sheet of paper. But now that we will put our last ICE into production in 2026, this transformation for me is already done. In the studio outside our design center, there are around 40 projects in progress, 80% of which are electric vehicles.

As Lichte says: “Electric vehicles are the new normal for me right now. He’s already working on what’s to come – in about three years, when Audi takes a new step in design. And this design stage will be guided by the possibilities created by advanced driver assistance systems.

“The world is changing, and the automobile in particular,” says Lichte. “We are talking about level four autonomous technology [in which cars can drive unsupervised in certain conditions, particularly on highways that have the required infrastructure]. This is a complete game changer. The transformation is much more important than going from ICE to EV. “

There is some overlap with Audi’s three-year design cycle. The A8 that launched Lichte’s first cycle launched in 2017, shortly before the E-tron GT concept was revealed to preview the next cycle. And now, just as the E-tron GT is on sale, so the company is gearing up to reveal a concept that will preview the flagship of the next fleet.

This concept, known as the Grand Sphere, will be showcased at this year’s Munich Motor Show, previewing the production version of the “land jet” that Audi has developed as part of its project. high-tech Artemis.

Due to its commercialization in 2025, it will be the first machine to use the Volkswagen Group’s new SSP platform for electric vehicles, which merges elements of consumer MEB and performance-oriented PPE. It will also use the VW Group’s new VW.OS operating system software and be designed to offer level four autonomy.

“The car we will be showing in Munich will be one of three show cars exploring this technology,” said Lichte. “We’re going to tell a story in three acts, and the heart of the story is the technology surrounding autonomous driving.

“It’s a very bold decision to offer a car with this level of technology, but if you look at Audi’s history, we’ve been successful every time …

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This notice was published: 2021-07-25 05:01:23

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