Adrian van Hooydonk has to have one of the most diverse portfolios as a car designer, covering not only the Mini, but all the BMW range - including the i3 and i8 - plus Rolls-Royce and motorbikes.
The Dutchman joined BMW Group 20 years ago and since February 2009 has been senior vice-president of design, leading a 500-strong team.
What was the highlight of the Paris Motor Show?
It was the first time BMW Group had all our brands together in one hall, also the first time joint press conferences for all the brands. We are one of only a few manufacturers that offer mobility on both two wheels and four wheels. We thought it would be suitable for a city like Paris to talk about mobility in a broader sense; not just cars but motorbikes too.
We also talked about mobility in the sense of DriveNow, which is a service we offer where people can download an app on their smartphone and it shows them where the cars are that you can use if you subscribe. It allows customers to use our products without buying them, so we are really offering various solutions to people's needs and all of them premium, but not all of them would require our customers to purchase the cars.
Where we do DriveNow we have the youngest customers because buying our product does come at a price.
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Van Hooydonk believes a car that looks fast should deliver on that implied promise.
Is this one of the solutions to get Millennials/Gen Y buying cars?
It lowers the threshold because you don't have to make the investment or buy the garage or parking space, insurance or servicing. We take care of all these things.
What we know about the Millennials is that they would appreciate a driving solution and if they can book it online that is appreciated as well.
When you are designing cars now, do you have to think about attracting younger buyers?
The BMW i8, left, and i3 are leading the way for the company in regards to design.
Are you looking at the i3 and i8 for future design inspiration?
The i brand is basically conceived to be at the forefront of all types of new technology, whether that is battery/electric mobility, hybrid mobility, or online services, this is all done under the i brand. That doesn't mean those technologies won't filter into the other brands. They will, but the i brand is basically our experimental labs for all these things.
So far the reaction to the i3 and i8, which are radical vehicles in all senses, has been quite positive. It looks like we could turn that new brand into a success as well.
There are stories in the British press that BMW is working on an i9 and i5. Is this true?
Maybe they know something that I don't. The i brand is still new but we once started the M brand with only one car and we started the Mini brand with only one car, and expanded the story.
The i brand we launched with two cars, which is a tremendous effort, and for now we want to give these the appropriate attention and deliver these cars to the customers. For now the demand far outweighs the supply and we don't see an immediate need to add to the brand but, of course, we do think that possibly would be there in the future.
The i brand was important as it was designed in isolation, away from the main design team. You won't find any switch from a BMW in a Mini and vice versa, so we keep the brands pure.
The BMW Z9 Gran Turismo was designed by Van Hooydonk with a specific demographic of buyer in mind.
Is that important for your job, that each brand is unique in design?
Yes, this is very important. While all the cars we make are considered premium, each segment that we enter we are at the top end in terms of what we offer and luxury. The character of each car is very different.
BMWs are made for people who love driving, who consider it an activity, are probably achievers in their life. The car expresses that.
Minis are for people who live an urban lifestyle, and are probably quite successful in their own right, but don't take themselves seriously.
Rolls-Royce is the pinnacle in the car industry so every aspect of the car is the highest possible and, of course, it's a fantastic car to design for, and it's a brand we want to design for into the future.
BMW i is for early adopters.
What all brands have in common is the attention to detail and the fact it's a special driving experience.
Due to engineering advances, such as carbon fibre, do you have to consider such technology when designing vehicles?
I've been with the company for 20 years, and it has always been engineer-focused. And, as a designer for this company, I always wanted to know what the product is capable of doing and I always wanted to express that in the design. If it looks fast it should be fast.
In terms of material, we've always looked at [getting] the weight balance right - 50-50 front and rear axle - and we've always used different materials to get that right. We've used steel, plastic and aluminium and now carbon fibre adds a whole new material into the mix. Each of these materials has challenges and opportunities.
For me, and nothing new, but doing a chassis in carbon fibre opened up a while new door quite literally. If you look at the i3 [dual "suicide" doors as there is no B pillar], the only way it could be done was with this.
Other car manufacturers are investigating see-through A-pillars.
What we will see is that there will be more and more cameras in and around the car and cameras can see where the human eye cannot. If you are then able to link up the image of the camera, I can imagine you have complete surround view and no pillars. Sometimes the C-pillar obstructs the view, but if you have cameras and screens in appropriate places you can link up the image and it becomes seamless. This is what technology will allow in the future.
Van Hooydonk says the BMW i3 has no need of a B-pillar due to the use of carbon fibre in the car's manufacture.
In the next five years, what will be the main change in the look of vehicles?
I think the i3 and i8 are clues. Lightweight construction, connectivity will change the look of cars even more. In the i3 and i8 there are two screens. In the future I imagine those screens will start blending together, along with heads-up display and the customer will be able to move information from left to right, set the car up how they like.
I think we are going to see touch input into the car, and voice input will be better. What I hope to achieve with that technology is [that] the overall look and feel of the car will be cleaner.