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Bentley names new global design boss

Wealth of talent: Luc Donckerwolke has held top-level design positions at several VW Group brands, including Lamborghini, Audi, Seat and Skoda.

Donckerwolke to lead Bentley design as van Braeckel shifts to new role within VW

Bentley logo20 Sep 2012

BENTLEY Motors has brought in the Volkswagen Group’s head of advanced design Luc Donckerwolke as its new director of design, handing him the scalpel to carve out the next generation of super-luxury cars from the hallowed VW-owned British brand – including an expected SUV.

Mr Donckerwolke replaces the Dirk van Braeckel, who over the past 13 years has created the modern look of Bentley with the sporting Continental range, regal Mulsanne limousine (including a convertible ‘concept’ revealed last month) and, earlier this year, the ‘EXP 9 F’ concept that previewed its controversial SUV program.

The SUV is still to be officially given the green light, although in unveiling the concept at the Geneva motor show in March, former Bentley Motors chairman and CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer – who since September 1 has been head of technical development for Audi – said the new model was slated to be built in Britain using the Volkswagen-Audi Group’s MLB platform and a modified version of the current 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 petrol engine.

Bentley announced at the Beijing motor show a month later that it was also considering a V6 plug-in hybrid powertrain and a conventional V8 alongside the W12.

 center imageFrom top: Bentley EXP 9 F Lamborghini Gallardo and Murcielago.

As previously reported, GoAuto understands that Bentley has made a definitive commitment to production of the SUV, with a likely mid-decade launch and an expectation that it will increase Bentley’s annual sales from around 7000 vehicles to between 10,000 and 12,000.

Mr van Braeckel, 54, moves to an unspecified design role within the VW Group under global design boss Walter de Silva, while Mr Donckerwolke becomes part of the new-look top-level management team at Bentley, now headed by VW’s former global commercial vehicles chief Wolfgang Schreiber.

Mr Donckerwolke, 47, has experience across a broad range of luxury, exotic and mainstream passenger cars and SUVs within Volkswagen’s stable.

He began his career as an exterior designer at Audi in 1992 and subsequently worked as styling chief for several VW Group brands including Skoda, Seat and Lamborghini – where he worked on Murcielago and Gallardo.

Mr Donckerwolke was reassigned from his role as Seat design director to head of advanced design for the entire Volkswagen Group in August last year.

Mr de Silva said Mr Donckerwolke brought a “wealth of design talent” to Bentley.

“His extensive experience makes him the ideal person to take forward Bentley’s future design language, at a time when the company has significant plans for new models,” he said.

Mr de Silva also highlighted the contribution made by Mr van Braeckel, who has been described as the one of the world’s longest-serving global vehicle brand or auto-maker design chiefs, second only to the Ford Motor Company’s J Mays.

“I would like to thank Dirk van Braeckel for the significant contribution he has made to Bentley,” Mr de Silva said.

“He has overseen the evolution of the Bentley brand and the development of the new generation Continental family and the flagship Mulsanne.

“I look forward to him joining the team at Volkswagen Group design.”

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