A lot can be said of the exterior design trends of luxury car makers, but it’s inside that could be the new battleground for premium marques, according to recently appointed Audi design chief, Marc Lichte.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the recent 2014 Los Angeles auto show, Lichte said that in the coming years he expects interior design to be the dominant topic of conversation among the German luxury car brands, not to mention prestige rivals from abroad.
“This is a teaser for a next-generation A8, for example,” Lichte said of the Audi Prologue concept that debuted at the recent US show, bringing with it an all-digital interface that essentially replaces all buttons and switches with screens.
“And as you can see we almost reduce the car, there’s no buttons anymore. This is a big move, and instead of this we have touch displays. So this is something we will see definitely in the future,” Lichte said of the potential for a similar type of screen architecture being used in the next-generation Audi A8, which could arrive in 2016.
“But, and this is important for Audi, all the screens are integrated in the architecture,” he said. “This is very important for us. Because this is our own way, integrated,” Litche asserted, indicating that the company will move away from tablet-style dash-top units that are de rigueur right now.
“I see the big trend, like in the showcar, is with the interior,” he said.
“We are at the point where we, because of the new interface is changing a lot, for example this car. This is something that’s exciting at the moment,” Lichte said. “For us it’s the next big goal.”
However, Lichte also pointed to a range of changes for the exterior of the four-ring brand’s cars, once again confirming that the brand will move to give models more standalone, individual styling than is currently the case.
“I think the last 10 years Audi did a very big job, because Audi they have created the single frame [grille]. The single frame was that important because it gave Audi a face which was on the level of our competitors,” he said. “Because this face was developed in the last ten years, in evolution. Now we do a bigger step. This is what makes this that exciting.
“I think it’s important that we keep the single frame, but with a different proportion,” Lichte said, speaking in particular of the face of the Audi Prologue showcar which bears a broader, more aggressive appearance than anything that has come before it.
Lichte said the concept car design was commenced just four months ago from a blank sheet of paper, but he had one key element in mind for the Prologue’s single-frame grille.
“We reduce the height because we want to stretch the width of the car,” he said.
And Lichte suggested that future models will follow the path of the Prologue – not only the A8, but smaller, less expensive models as well.
“In the future we will – for example, A8, A7 and A6 – we will create different characters. So you can imagine that an A8 will be less sporty than an A7. And the A6 will be something between,” he said.
“We will do this in a different way on each segment, and with the face as well,” he said.
When asked if that means more differentiation between models, Lichte was frank.
“Exactly,” he said. “I can promise you.”