The concept cars such as the Silver-EQ Silver Arrow of Mercedes-
Benz throw a fascinating insight into the future of a car manufacturer, and give us an idea of what is going on inside the minds of the people who design them. Wanting to learn more, Digital Trends met with Gorden Wagener, the head of design at Mercedes-Benz, to talk about the second generation CLA and to learn how technologies such as electrification and autonomy will shape the next stars of the company.
The original CLA presented in 2013 stood out with pride as one of the most design models in the history of Mercedes. Was it difficult to create a follow-up?
Gorden Wagener: First, it’s fun to design for CLA. It’s a designer’s car; It looks like a designer’s sketch. The new car is very close to the sketch. That is the essence of the design process, to capture the feeling of the original sketch in each project.
The car is on a new platform and has grown a lot. It’s like an idol of human beauty, and it’s sexier than ever. This is something that we humans like. Bring the CLA in a completely new generation. On the other hand, the cleaning of the design is, of course, very high technology.
Looking ahead, where do you want to take Mercedes’ design language?
I will not throw Sensual Purity overboard. It is very important for a luxury brand to have a meaningful style. We were the first to invent that language of clean and timeless design.“It’s very important for a luxury brand to have a significant style.”
We are a luxury company. We used to be a traditional luxury company, the brand of parents but not children, now we have transformed into a modern luxury company through design. Why would this identity change? I will not change the general idea and the philosophy that sustains it, but, of course, I have to be able to develop it more and more. We are seeing Sensual Purity 1.0, 1.5, etc .; It’s like an operating system. The next S-Class will be 3.0. We will push it more, but tomorrow we will not do something like a 90 degree turn, because that would be wrong.
Speaking of evolving a design language, the EQC with electric battery introduced in 2018 seems more conventional than its rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace. Was this intentional?
We started consciously in the GLC segment, which is our best-selling segment. People like SUVs, and they like that segment. There is a lot of volume in this segment, so it was an easy decision to start like this.
Do you see electrification and autonomy creating new design possibilities?
Much. It is such an exciting time. We’re changing the car more in the next 10 years than ever before, so it’s great to be in the driver’s seat when everything happens.
The autonomy allows more entertainment on board and entertainment and entertainment technology, so the car will be transformed through that. Not tomorrow, but gradually. Everyone talks of autonomy as, “well, tomorrow we all manage autonomously.” No, it will not happen like that. It will be a gradual process. It will take a little time.“The mainstream segment is at risk of becoming a public tram. And we don’t want to build trams.”
The meaning of the car will change. We have to make sure that it does not change too much. In the end, the car is still fun to drive, but we will see different models through technology. We will see the autonomous part, commuting, in a metropolitan environment. It is a great solution there. But everyone wants to share? I do not think so. For the rich, safety and security are important.
Many people want privacy, security, etc. They love having their own thing that can be handled autonomously but also manually. I see a big difference between the luxury segment and the mainstream segment. That is at risk of becoming a public tram. And we do not want to build trams. We will always make sure to stay on the luxury side of things.