Manufacturing News

Ex-VW design chief de Silva styles Chinese crossover

Volkswagen Group’s former design chief, Walter de Silva, has styled the ECF crossover concept for Chinese electric vehicle brand Arcfox.

De Silva is to unveil the concept Tuesday at the Geneva auto show.

The ECF, said to have Level 3 autonomy, is to be unveiled alongside two production versions of the Arcfox-GT electric supercar derived from the 2016 Arcfox-7 supercar concept.

De Silva is widely regarded as one of the finest automotive designers of his generation.

The Italian executive joined Volkswagen Group's Seat unit in 1999 from Fiat Group, where he was responsible for styling at the Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands. From there he moved to Audi before taking overall control of design for all of VW Group's brands in 2007.

He retired from VW in 2015.

In 2017, de Silva came out of retirement to work for German engineering firm EDAG’s Spanish arm in Barcelona. When de Silva joined EDAG, the company said he would be responsible for styling a range of EVs for a large Chinese company, which it did not name.

Arcfox is owned by Beijing Electric Vehicle, a division of Beijing Auto. Last year, Daimler took a 4 percent stake in BJEV to build on its joint-venture relationship with BAIC. Daimler is reportedly in talks to build electric Smart minicars with BJEV.

BAIC declined to comment on whether it had sales plans for Arcfox in Europe.

Arcfox sells the Lite two-seat electric car in China, which mirrors Smart's strategy in offering a more high-tech and premium EV minicar compared with the majority of low-cost EVs in China.

BJEV offers four EVs under its own brand, according to its website. It delivered 158,012 EVs in 2018, up 53 percent from a year earlier, figures from Automotive News China show. BAIC was the second-largest seller of plug-in vehicles behind BYD in China last year at 229,125, according to figures from market analyst EV-Volumes.

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