The Volkswagen Design Center in Wolfsburg. Wrapped vehicles under a heavy disguise. An LED wall in XXL format. Klaus Zyciora, Head of Design at the Volkswagen Group, stands in front of the wall and says: “We designers make the future tangible. In the best case, we answer questions before society requires an answer.” Sitting in front of Zyciora are three designers whose answers were particularly convincing: Linus Combüchen, Lumin Badziong and Cor Steenstra are the winners of the Volkswagen ID.3 Design of the Year 2050 competition.
Internal competition: Three designs for the Auto 2050
E-mobility and digitalization are revolutionizing our vehicles. At Volkswagen, the winners of a design competition for the ID.3 of the year 2050 have now been announced. Their designs impress with their high level of aerodynamics, spacious interior and freedom to enjoy.
With their designs, they face the major trends that are changing the future of the car: Digitalization, climate-friendly propulsion systems, autonomous driving. Translated into design, this means: a high level of aerodynamics, a spacious interior, freedom to enjoy. Combüchen, the first-place winner, has designed a self-driving car with panoramic windshield in front of the front seats. Motto: If you don’t have to steer, you can let your eyes wander without worrying.
Klaus Zyciora and Jozef Kabaň, Head of Volkswagen Design, show the winners a car that also provides an answer for the future: the ID.3, the first member of the fully electric ID. family. “The ID. family stands for the transformation of the company. We had to deliver the first design drafts within a few weeks. That was a tough time, but it was worth it,” says Zyciora. The new electric models are not only beneficial for climate protection – they also bring new opportunities for designers. “Freedom outside, freedom inside,” is how Zyciora sums it up. After ID.3, the second member of the ID. family has now also had its world premiere: the ID.4, the first electric SUV from the Volkswagen brand.
The Volkswagen Group’s eight design centers are located on four continents. “Our work runs practically around the clock. When we switch on the computers in Europe, China is already at its desk. And when we finish work, the work continues in Brazil, Mexico and the USA,” says Zyciora.
Digital tools are becoming increasingly important, especially for international exchange. The majority of design decisions are now made on LED walls and in virtual reality. “Only with digital tools can we be as fast as we are in developing the ID. family,” says Kabaň.
The designers of the Volkswagen brand alone are currently working on around 90 vehicle projects simultaneously – not alone, but together with engineers, programmers and other experts. The challenge: harmonizing vision and feasibility. “Getting a car on the road is hard work. But we love it when we see our designs driving past us at some point,” says Kabaň.
Today, nobody can say whether the designs from the design competition will also go into series production at some point. One thing is certain: the winner, Linus Combüchen, will soon be able to put his Car of the Year 2050 in his home. The first-place winner will receive a 3D printed model on a scale of 1:4, which means that he has already achieved one of the most important goals of any designer: creating a vision of the future.