Audi Design Boss Marc Lichte Talks the Future of Audi Design


Audi’s head of design is having a helluva year. The Audi e-tron GT — and its performance variant, the RS e-tron GT — made its official debut and its design garnered near-universal praise. It’s a stunning car of any kind but it just so happens to be an all-electric, four-door GT car. According to Lichte, the e-tron GT is the best looking car he’s ever designed but there’s so much more to come.


“Quite a lot [more to come]. In fact, I would say that we’re just at the beginning.” Lichte said during a recent interview.


“What we’re experiencing right now? With electromobility, the car has already been fundamentally changed in its construction. The visible power center is no longer the engine, but rather the large battery block in the underfloor. In addition, there are the possibilities for digitalization and, above all, automated driving. This will fundamentally alter the automobile in the coming years. It’s a change that can probably only be compared with the transitional moment when the carriage was superseded by the car.”


Lichte claims that electrification and automatic change the way designers design cars. Since the dawn of the automobile, cars have been designed from the outside in, starting with the physical, mechanical constraints that needed to be worked around. Now, though, we’re starting to look at the car from the inside out.


“Because automated driving is changing an elementary point that previously seemed unchangeable in all cars worldwide: in the future, drivers will no longer have to constantly keep their hands on the wheel. Without the task of actively driving, they will gain new freedoms and can structure their time themselves. Work, entertainment, or relaxing – these are all possible. And at the same time, we are also gaining – without a steering wheel or pedals – new design possibilities for the interior and, quite simply, more room and a better sense of space.” said Liche.


Marc Lichte, Head of Design, AUDI AG

“For users, the interior will become their personal free space; for us designers, it’s the new design nucleus of the car. So the design process begins with the question: who will be sitting in a new model and what all would that person want to do there? It’s a 180 degree turn. In the future, the car will no longer be designed from the outside in, but from the inside out.”


What does that inside out motto mean for Lichte? “Imagine a traditional luxury sedan – over 5 meters (16.4 feet) long, tinted windows, and painted black. Where does the customer sit? In the driver’s seat? No, he’s sitting in the back right seat, possibly using the rear seat entertainment, while the chauffeur drives the car. But in the future, if the task of driving ceases to apply, then it would be much more attractive to the customer to sit right in the front in a comfortable seat with an unobstructed view of the outside or a large onboard entertainment system like you would want at home. For me, that’s first-class traveling.”

Audi AI:ME Concept Interior

Is that first-class traveling something that’s far off, in the distant future?


“Not at all.” said Lichte. “In 2017 and 2019, for example, we introduced the Audi AI:CON and AI:ME concept vehicles. They were vision cars. With them, we were looking ten to twenty years into the future. Now, by contrast, we’re working intensely on implementing the series. We’ll be sending the first example to the IAA in Munich in September with a production-based show car, the Audi grandsphere concept. The name essentially says it all.”

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