All change please: Dissecting the car design top job merry-go-round

All change please

Within the last year there have arguably been more major job changes in senior car design than in the last five put together. Via exclusive quotes, dot-joining and head-scratching, Car Design News unpicks some of the reasons and possible consequences

The amount of change within car design department staff over the last 12 months – and especially the first half of 2021 – has been striking. It started gently in April 2020 with VW brand design boss Klaus Zyciora taking over one of the industry’s biggest jobs – head of design for the whole VW Group – as Michael Mauer stepped back to solely concentrate on the Porsche brand. Zyciora wore both hats until July 2020, when Jozef Kaban – who had bounced from Skoda-to-BMW-to-Rolls-Royce within four years – came back to the group as Volkswagen brand design director.

The next trigger came in the autumn of 2020 with a new corporate set-up at Renault Group aiming to right a decidedly wobbly ship post-Ghosn and pre-incoming CEO Luca de Meo, that prompted VP of Renault Group design Laurens van den Acker to pitch to de Meo to set up design along individual brand lines. De Meo agreed and van den Acker moved to executive vice president of design while coaxing Gilles Vidal to vacate his Peugeot design director job to take over day-to-day Renault brand design duties.

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