A wealth of Chinese-based electric vehicle (EV) startups have been popping up over the last few years and many are pushing the envelope on exterior and interior design.

    As reported by Bloomberg, Volkswagen Group and Porsche chief designer Michael Mauer is taking note as already established Chinese brands, as well as newly founded startups expand their footprint into Europe.

    “These startups, with no heritage, they can do things completely different,” said Mr Mauer.

    “I consider it a positive thing actually, as a designer, because that makes the decision-makers — i.e., the management board — more open-minded.”

    Mr Mauer has been the head of design at Porsche for almost 20 years and is responsible for styling the likes of the Cayenne, Macan, Panamera, Taycan, as well as the 918 Spyder.

    He also became Volkswagen Group head of design at the start of this year, replacing Klaus Zyciora.

    Porsche head of advanced exterior design Ingo Scheinhütte also told Autocar in August the brand’s new EVs “must be an evolution” of German firm’s heritage.

    “I always have this image in my head of this stone that you throw into the future,” added Mr Mauer.

    “The question is, how far do I throw it? Hitting that sweet spot exactly, going far enough into the future, but not too far, is a real challenge.”

    Mr Mauer explained German carmakers have room to improve in terms of design and in-car features in order to connect with Chinese buyers.

    He added although the design situation at the Volkswagen Group isn’t dire, it’s more important than ever to get it absolutely right.

    “The success that Volkswagen brand had in the volume segment was, in my opinion, due to the fact that there was a strong focus on design and design quality,” said Mr Mauer.

    “Design is certainly not the biggest issue in the company, but it’s an area where I can still achieve a lot with relatively modest resources.”

    Over the next few years the Volkswagen Group brands, including Porsche, will continue to reveal their next-generation products.

    At Porsche, an electric 718 Boxster is coming, as well as the Macan EV, next-generation Panamera, 911 hybrid, and an ultra-premium electric SUV.

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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