More information on Chris Bangle’s resignation

News | February 3rd, 2009 by 25

As promised, we’re back with some new information regarding Bangle’s departure from BMW, the reasons behind it and how will this impact BMW and future …

As promised, we’re back with some new information regarding Bangle’s departure from BMW, the reasons behind it and how will this impact BMW and future designs.

As we might have hinted earlier, lately it has been an internal argument, about the future of some BMW projects. Apparently, the Project i is the one that divided the designers and the board. Mr. Bangle’s idea did not fully coincide with his protege, Adrian Von Hooydonk and other members of the board.

behind scene 7series 24 500x368

Bangle’s ideas were denied since the company sees a different future for the Project i and this is what might have created a rupture in the team. This conflict might have been one of the main reasons that made him resign since he couldn’t take responsibility for the design strategy chosen by other people.

The Board of Directors tried to convince Bangle to stay on board and alternative positions were offered to him, including the Design Director of the U.S based, DesignworksUSA. Bangle turned down the offers but he will still cooperate at some level with BMW, mainly on non-automotive projects, most likely in the Designworks team. Sources say that he might be involved in some interior design projects, but probably too early to know for sure. The split seemed to have been amicable in the end and we have no doubt that BMW and its board are very fond of Mr. Bangle, and most important, they appreciate what he has done for the company in the past years.

Adrian Von Hooydonk will be the replacement and will be involved in the Project i, which has been “greenlighted” by the Board. Regarding Project i , there was a disagreement on the strategy that needs to be chosen.

As we know, BMW design language and strategy is set in motion years before the models hit the showrooms, so there will not be an immediate change in the BMW, MINI or Rolls-Royce designs. The first post-Bangle era design will be seen in 6-7 years, in one of the new BMWs.

So ….very unexpectedly the Bangle-era has ended at BMW AG. Ironically the advertised “New Era” has at least officially arrived: the company is going through a huge economic crisis, Chris Bangle resigns after many years with the company, the new M models are going turbo and overall, the BMW brand is repositioning itself…a “New Era” indeed.

As an ending point, it is worth mentioning that Von Hooydonk’s ideas on all the design languages was and is very in sync with Bangle views, Project i being the exception.

Who was right or wrong? Time will tell…..

P.S. Us, at BMWBLOG, would like to thank Chris Bangle for all the great work he has done over the years and most important, for inspiring other designers as well. Despite being heavily criticized by media, we believed in his projects and the design course he has chosen for BMW. We would also like to wish good luck To Adrian Von Hooydonk, a great designer that has the potential to fill successfully the spot left open by Mr. Bangle.

Here is our Thank You article to Mr. Bangle, for all his work.

Thank you to our sources for clearing the mystery behind this.

25 responses to “More information on Chris Bangle’s resignation”

  1. roffle waffle says:

    im very amused by the staged photo hahahahhaa

  2. Horatiu B. says:

    I figured it would be a good photo to post, I remember seeing it when the new 7 came out, so I dug for it.

  3. Gragop says:

    Reminds me of the scene in Jerry Maguire:

    “Alright! So who’s coming with me?!”

  4. Gord says:

    So if I understand correcty …

    Van Hooydonk will be BMW Group’s chief designer. He was originally BMW’s chief designer.

    So who will be BMW’s chief designer ?

  5. Brookside says:

    It’ll be interesting to see who bails out with Bangle and where he ends up.
    If, for example, he takes some of the younger edgier designers with him- an Anders Warming or Nadia Arnaud- speculation right now, but as Horatiu mentioned there’ll almost surely be some talent drain from BMW…not just Bangle. So there’s still some fall-out to come.

    I wonder how much autonomy there will be for design at BMW after Bangle? Talented young designers just now getting their degrees and sending out portfolios are certainly going to be tracking these changes.

  6. bunker says:

    Someday, maybe they’ll all look back and laugh about the fact that this whole thing happened because of an argument over an ELECTRIC BMW…

  7. Horatiu B. says:

    @bunker: I don’t think that was the main reason. I’m sure there are more things that we don’t know…

  8. The Lee says:

    Regardless of whether or not I like Bangle’s designs, a changing of the guard wass an absolute necessity in order to progress BMW.

    I came from the restaurant industry, so the easiest way for me to parallel it is with Certified Executive Chefs (CEC). A great CEC can make or break your restaurant. At the same time, they can also severely limit your growth into other areas. Every once in a while it’s important to let that CEC go in order to get some fresh blood into the place.

    Same thing goes with car design. If you keep the same design team too long, you risk limiting your influences and opportunities.

  9. The Lee says:

    My only concern is that they’re not moving far enough away from Bangle. If you’re going to move on to a new regime, I’m not sure that I’m fond of putting someone in charge whose entire career has been spent with Bangle.

    It really depends on how Adrian Von Hooydonk decides to handle it. Will it be business as usual, or will he mix things up significantly and steer BMW into a completely different direction?

  10. Gragop says:

    @The Lee:

    Yeah, but to play devil’s advocate, do we want to go in an entirely different direction? Look at the outcry in 2002 with the introduction of the E65. Granted, it was a success, I think I saw far more E65s than I ever did E38’s(thank you leasing!).

    After all, BMW switched gears to the Bangle styling as a result of the fear that their line-up would become “same sausage, different links” styled. So I can see why BMW may follow suit once more and begin to head in a new direction, especially with Bangle asses showing up on many competitor’s cars and flame surfacing becoming popular.

  11. The Lee says:


    I think this line shows exactly my point: “…especially with Bangle asses showing up on many competitor’s cars…”

    The moment the competition catches up is exactly the moment that you must put even more effort to move back ahead, lest you fall behind and become yet another car company that’s struggling to simply “keep up”.

    To me, it’s the perfect opportunity to move BMW in a completely new direction. Will you get some opposition? Absolutely. You’re going to get opposition regardless of what you do, though.

  12. Auday says:

    regardless of how irrational this sounds, but for me it’s a dream came true!
    I’ve been waiting for this moment since I lost my appetite that morning when I saw the E65.

  13. Gragop says:

    @The Lee:

    Hell with it. Please go back and make more E39 M5’s and E38 740’s please. That’s my personal hey day for BMW…I want them to start retrogressing versus progressing.

  14. The Lee says:

    Everything’s cyclical, Gragop. Sooner or later, a day will come when we will get our modernized e38s and e39s. It’ll likely be when we’re on our death beds, but the day will one day arrive. Then we’ll be able to tell our grand children “I remember the day when they actually designed cars that looked like cars, instead of these stupid bubbles with wheels you kids are driving these days,” while shaking our fists in the air out of frustration.

  15. Gragop says:

    @The Lee: intend to beat my grand kids with a cain if they touch my 2055 BMW.

  16. Abqhudson says:

    What is Project i????

  17. Abqhudson says:

    Thanks for the info.

  18. Giom says:

    @The Lee:

    Didn’t all cars in the 60s look alike? The 70s were even more cloned. The 80s brought a new sence of adventure to the automotive design industry -think Ford Sierra. How different was the Sierra to say the Aston Lagonda of that time. You can tell a 90s design apart from a 00 design, and now 2010 is apon us.

    I think BMW design has a lot to do with the shape of the modern car. And I’m fully hopfull that the post Bangle era cars will continue to set this tone.

    As I mentioned before… BMW hired Bangle, they will head the company in the right direction again.

  19. Vladimir says:

    Thanks to god!!!
    Finaly bmw can introduce retro design :)(yust like americans do with mustang,camaro and charger)
    imagine next 3 ser been styled to loook like e30 :)

  20. Giom says:


    Thats a strange thing to say Vlad. Is it not in a companys best interest to go foreward? What if they decided that in the 30 cars will always look like that. Would you have cars looking like 30s design right now? Do you not like the new Z4? Should it have looked like the 328? To me thats backward thinking.

    Look at Britten. They lost all their car brands because of this thinking. They said, “If it aint broken, why fix it.” Thats how you stay behind. Thats how you loose your edge. The Germans in contrast, are always striving for something better. BMW got a think tank division that through away a third of all their ideas into the bin. Only a third makes it into production. If it wasn’t for their willingness to try new stuff, we wouldn’t have ABS or DSC or PDC… heck, even the fuel guage came later.

    The same applies to design. If you don’t come up with something fresh and new (Jaguar in the 80s for one example), some one else will and take that share of the pie.

    If you ask me why I like BMW, this is one of the very good reasons.

  21. Vladimir says:

    yust look at this two cars:
    i didnt say that next 3 ser should be identical to e30,no no but it would be nice to look like e30,yust like these two concepts ;)

  22. The Lee says:

    Yes, there has always been a general theme to decades of automotive production. I’ll give you that. To this day, I still have an extremely difficult time telling old muscle cars apart from eachother (I’m probably the only person in Texas that has this problem).

    There are two types of designs: proactive and reactive. Some companies (I include BMW in this category) create new designs before they become trendy. Others pick apart those designs like vultures and apply various traits from various other brands to their own cars (reactive car design).

    BMW, at the moment, is sitting at a point where they have to choose whether they’ll continue to be proactive or whether they’ll stick with the general Bangle design philosophy and stagnate to the point where they’ll have to play catch-up later on.

    Think about it like a relay race. The competition is closing in; will AVH take the baton from Bangle and haul ass to put more distance between himself and the rest of the pack, or will he continue on the pace of Bangle and eventually allow the others to catch up?

  23. Horatiu B. says:

    Bottom line is that Mr. Bangle did a great job at BMW, despite all the criticism from media and consumers. He built a great team around him and inspired many people, within BMW and outside.

    For that, we can only thank him and wish him good luck in his next adventure.

  24. URAGANU says:

    Thank God he’s leaving. BMW had the worst Era since this guy joined the Design team. Thank God he’s out. I only hope BMW to get back to original design forms that made us all to love them.

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