Philipp Römers talks about the new Audi design between the e-tron GT and the A6 e-tron

Philipp Römers, Head of Design for the Audi A6 Avant e-tron Concept, tells us about the changes and challenges of designing electric cars

When we wrote about the new Audi A6 Avant e-tron Concept, we did not lie by saying that it surprised and impressed us with its brand new design and different from what Audi has shown us so far.

Winding, modern shapes, which partly mark a return to the past, partly look far ahead in an exquisite combination of shapes and proportions, materials and technologies. We wanted to elaborate, to discover the work behind the design of this car and more generally of an electric car. As well as the work behind the new stylistic course of the German brand. For this, Philipp Römers, design manager for the Audi A6 Avant e-tron Concept, agreed to take a chat with us.

QM. The Audi A6 Avant e-tron concept is a brand new car, different from before: What elements inspired the design and what does the car represent?

Audi is gradually expanding its range of electric cars across all major segments. 2021 The Audi A6 e-tron Sportback Concept was a draft design for a low-floor C-segment electric car. We have now presented the Avant version as the second concept in this family. Its styling shows how we at Audi Design envision the development of the current body line in the C-segment. What I really like about the Audi A6 e-tron Avant concept is that the brand refers to its successful legacy: there are models Avant in series since 1977, a revolutionary and very emotional reinterpretation of the station wagon class. With the Avant, whose dynamic lines are combined with a high degree of variation, the company has literally come up with a new type of car. And now we take this idiom into a new era.

Looking ahead, you immediately notice how the Audi A6 e-tron concept is an Audi with electric propulsion. Characteristic is the large inverted single-frame grille, which is surrounded at the bottom by deep air intakes for transmission, battery and brake cooling. The influence of the wind tunnel on the rear end is also unmistakable. The upper rear end is shaped to create an aerodynamically functional and peripheral tear edge. The rear spoiler with colored trim visually emphasizes the elongated and horizontally oriented silhouette of the A6 Avant e-tron concept, as well as performing important work with the airflow to improve aerodynamics. The slightly sloping roof arch with the sloping D-pillar is a typical feature of the Audi Avant window design; The D-pillar rises from the stable bottom of the rear of the car in a particularly aerodynamic way. Finally, the eye-catching quattro wheel arches effectively highlight the body width.

QM. How would you describe the new Audi design in a few words? Or in a nutshell?

At Audi, we call our stylistic philosophy “Aesthetic intelligenceThese are two words that describe the synthesis of cutting-edge design and innovative technology, or the best possible combination of maximum aesthetics and perfect functionality.

QM. What are the difficulties of designing an electric car? And what are the main differences between designing a “traditional” vehicle and an electric one? Are there any benefits?

This is an interesting question and the answer may surprise you! The most important thing to understand is that the basis of good design is proportions, and this applies to all design areas. For the automotive industry, good proportions mean short overhangs and a long wheelbase paired with a streamlined cab on a powerful body. Electromobility gives us exactly these perfect conditions so we can design the most attractive cars ever. To put it simply: the change of driving gives us freedom!

I’ll tell you why: the visible powerhouse is no longer the engine. The electric drive in the shaft area and the battery lock in the subfloor allow for a completely new design. The entire interior gets lightness and functionality, giving customers a space equivalent to the next higher segment. That way we get a compact exterior for our electric cars and a spacious interior for our customers.

What we are experiencing is that there are fundamentally different ideas in the automotive industry about what an electric car should look like. There are manufacturers who want to differentiate their electric models and models with internal combustion engine as much as possible. At Audi, we do not believe it, and we actually have a global design for both worlds. We know from our customers that entering electromobility should not lead to a break, either in daily fitness or in the design language.

Yes, that’s right, with electric mobility the car has been radically changed in its construction. But at the same time, all of today’s vehicles, regardless of driving, have still been shaped by the driver’s physiognomy and his one hundred percent driving task. Therefore, a completely new design language for electric cars, at least for us, does not make sense. In the case of autonomous driving, however, the customer gives up driving from time to time, so that he can now spend this free time in the car in a completely different way than before. And this newfound time and space for residents gives us designers countless opportunities to completely rethink the car from the inside out. This development will change the game, both in terms of technology and design.


QM. How can an electric Audi be made “exciting” from a design standpoint?

The question suggests that genuine and pure emotionality arises by driving a vehicle. We must look at things the other way around: Design was and is the number one buying motive for Audi customers and therefore plays a central role in the development of new models and must of course arouse emotions. These can be made visible and tangible with two things: maximum aesthetic proportions, as mentioned, and precise and uncompromising attention to detail.

Why? First, people who are interested in a car come in contact with are still the exterior. Desire must arise immediately! We all know this ourselves: The first impression is crucial in terms of whether someone stays or just walks away, zooms on the screen, or continues to browse quickly. Ideally, aesthetic form and function are combined. Especially with electric mobility, we need, for example, slim silhouettes that help to increase the range. They can be extremely attractive at the same time as the e-tron GT shows. In addition, we break the shoulder line of the Audi e-tron GT, lower it and emphasize with smooth lines the muscles in the car’s silhouette in front and behind, and thus all four wheels. It is a design reminiscent of the quattro drive, which is deeply rooted in Audi’s DNA. These tributes to our past are also very emotional and show how tradition and innovation can be well combined.

And for the second part of the answer I will quote Charles Eameswho once said: “The details are not the details. They make the design “. My favorite detail on our Gran Turismo is muscle four on the back. Pulling this muscle into sheet metal was a big challenge and took a long time: For three months, we only modeled this cut together with our toolmakers. Spot is stretched with absolute precision, an incredible emotional aspect.

You can see: Regardless of technology, the language of Audi Design has always been progressive and extremely exciting, so with our electric cars we continue to seek the most beautiful and meaningful solution for our customers: a timeless and sustainable design that meets taste individual principles through a universal design.

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