There isn't a dearth of choices in vehicle interiors these days. They can stream music any number of ways, and have multiple choice of connected systems. Fabric and leather choices for the seats also come in numerous options. We talk about how electronics would eventually take over even the most basic function of a driver – that of driving! The future is pregnant with opportunities for sure. And to get an insight into what that could be, we caught up with Romulus Rost, Head of Interior Design, Volkswagen Design Centre Potsdam, Germany.
For a group with 12 different brands, and 250 plus products, having a single design language is never preferred. Under Walter Maria de Silva, who is currently Head of Volkswagen Group Design, there are design chiefs for every brand, who ensure each of the brands is unique in its existence. "We have managed to give every brand its own design identity and a design philosophy," Rost said.
However, there are a few common threads that bind each of those brands within the group. While high standard of quality is maintained, designers ensure every design has very precise lines and are logical. Every product in the Volkswagen line-up, for instance, has vast A pillars and strong C pillars, Rost pointed out. For each brand, a design criteria or DNA is created that reflects the design appearance, like the volume of the body. That is true for the interiors as well.
"Even if we have the same platform underneath, we have to find technical synergies and design synergies," Rost explained.
TAIGUN COMPACT SUV CONCEPT
As a reference to understand the group's design strategy, we discussed the Taigun compact SUV concept that was showcased at the New Delhi Auto Expo in February. With the Taigun, we had the possibility of doing a really compact but very sporty, precise and robust SUV, said Rost. The biggest target was to offer a spacy cabin. Rost and his team also worked on making the interiors attractive for consumers with an affinity for the latest smart phones or tablet computers.
Materials play a large role not just from an aesthetics point of view, but also in lightweighting vehicles. Some of the materials used in the Taigun have also been used in the Beetle or the Up, said Rost. "We have very light weight material solutions like carbon-fibre, but cost may be prohibitive. Look at our XL1 for instance; it is made of carbon fibre and is very light and efficient. You have to find materials that are good for the environment and good for fuel consumption as well," he said.
The Taigun Volkswagen showcased at the New Delhi Auto Expo is the latest version of the Taigun Concept first seen in October 2012 São Paulo motor show in Brazil. The advanced version of the near-production concept of the Taigun SUV features a new rear section with outside-mounted spare wheel and a new boot lid. Rost said the response to the Taigun compact SUV has been overwhelming, and these changes are a result of the feedback received from the global markets. "Customers wanted fast access to the spare wheel without having to empty the boot first," Rost explained.
It is powered by a 1 l direct-injected turbocharged three-cylinder engine offering up 108 hp and 175 Nm of torque through a six-speed manual transmission. The claimed fuel average
If and when Volkswagen decides to launch the Taigun in India, it would enjoy the tax benefits offered by the government for vehicles under 4,000 mm in length. With the mounted spare wheel, the Taigun stands at 3,995 mm in length. The wheelbase of 2,470 mm is large in relation to its exterior length, and as a consequence, it has short overhangs.
Design undergoes a constant process of evolution and development. It's a combination of ensuring precise lines, high quality of materials, nice proportions are the hallmarks of good design, said Rost. In the near future, the biggest challenge for a designer is to see how they integrate the various technologies in the vehicle. At Volkswagen, Rost and his ream is preparing for a future of design that is sustainable and green.
Text: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah