The company’s new design direction, largely dominated by the use of enlarged kidney grilles for the latest BMW 7-Series and all-new BMW X7, has caused a huge amount of debate from the moment the vehicles were launched. Speaking with Autocar, van Hooydonk acknowledged people have strong opinions on the company’s styling.
“I’m not a psychologist but I know BMW is a brand that not only has customers, it has fans. They know our entire design history and have strong opinions on that,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it means we have really connected with these people on an emotional level. Okay, I know that there might be some discussion with fans because they’ve grown to love what you’ve just done and you’re changing it already. As a company, you have to keep moving,” he added.
Debate about the ever-growing scale of BMW’s kidney grille reached fever pitch at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show following the unveiling of the Concept 4 created as a preview to the latest-generation M4. According to van Hooydonk, making radical design moves is a necessity for a company like BMW otherwise it will be caught napping by competitors.
“The minute you start standing still, you become an easy target. The market is very competitive now, more than ever. But the hardest thing to do is make changes while you are successful,” he said. “If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode.”
Moving forward, BMW wants to design vehicles with fewer lines and exaggerated elements and wants the fewer eye-catching elements it does design to each play a larger role in the overall look of a car.