Wolfgang Egger, 50, has moved to Torino to meet the ultimate designer’s challenge at Italdesign.
In its 45 years, the Italian think-tank has only had two directors of styling (they call it this way to stress they also do engineering work and a lot more) whose name is on the top of the building: nothing less than Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro.
Egger is the first non family-member to take that responsibility and if he succeeds he will be ready to replace Walter De Silva when he will eventually resign.
Audi’s design team has done extremely in the past seven years under Egger’s management and the current and coming range of cars are there to witness his success.
Probably there was not much more that Egger could deliver to Audi for second next model generation.
Now can he do as much and as well for many more brands of the VW Group?
In his new position Egger will have a view from the top on the design developments of virtually all brands and is expected to point to what will be next, and – on some occasion – offer an alternative solution to design under developments. Just as Italdesign has done, inter alias, for the Bentley Luxury SUV after the disappointing unveiling of the EXP 9 F at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
However, life will be though for him there. His name is not on the top of the building and he has no stake in the company and he will have to respond to De Silva as well as (although indirectly) to the very top of the Group and of each brand that will call on Italdesign-Giugiaro for advice and co-operation.
A hell of a stressing task.
Risks are high.
In my opinion the move comes with high risks for VW Group, Audi, Italdesign-Giugiaro and Egger. They all cannot afford to fail. These are not times to make any mistake, especially when it comes to design and designers, or to waste time. Also I wonder if the VW Group can afford to loose such a great talent as Egger is, to a competitor (whichever that could be), the day Egger cracks under the pressure. That is not because the VW Group would suffer from his loss (they have survived many departures through the decades) but because he could turn-around the design and the fortunes of a competitor. Inter alias, the case of Peter Schreyer is there to show the point. He did indeed take Audi on the right path for design and should have been treated like a hero, but he was not. Consequently, he joined Kia, turned its design-team and design-output around and has contributed to drive the Korean brand where it is now. Hyundai and Kia escalation are now the top concern for many competitors and VW is on top of the list. One day (but the time is now) we will have probably to compare him with Giugiaro for his sense of proportions and to Walter De Silva for his design strategic acumen.
All this considered who has decided to take such a risk? And why?
Some insiders say it is the outcome of an underground confrontation between the “Italian Clan” and the “German Establishment” but Egger is German and the move takes him closer and closer to his mentor De Silva and to the Group top directors. There is some truth to it but this does not answer the question.
Hence my simple question, which I do not think anyone will want, or will be able, to answer soon. Time will tell.
Now May I just say that the fact is that top Italian designers have contributed to make VW (and Audi) great, just as Germans engineers have made Porsche what it is today?!