VW Group design boss Walter de Silva is a big fan of clean, simple design and that is obvious in the way the latest models of the German carmaker look like. However, as CO2 emission rules get tougher, automakers may be forced in the near future to sacrifice design in favor of optimal aerodynamics and better fuel efficiency, says Walter de Silva.
In an interview with Autonews Europe, he warns that a wave of vehicles with complex, cluttered design could arrive before the end of the decade. “While my view on simplicity won’t change, I fear stricter emission rules may permit a resurgence of decoration and graphics that are not aesthetically pleasing,” de Silva says.
He argues that in order to cut emissions automakers must reduce the vehicle’s weight and drag coefficient. “While there are multiple ways, such as using different materials, to reduce weight, aerodynamics is not an art, it is a science. A wind tunnel does not care about brand image or family feeling, it just measures the model’s aerodynamic performance, its drag coefficient,” VW’s design boss explains.
Walter de Silva gives the example of the third generations of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight (pictured), both developed to achieve an extremely low drag coefficient. “Their proportions and their side views are almost identical. The only way to distinguish one from the other is with graphic elements,” the designer says.
However, he adds that new limitations have an upside, stimulating creativity.
By Dan Mihalascu