Top BMW designer, Karim Habib leaving BMW for Mercedes

News | March 13th, 2009 by 33
bmw 7 series 41 lg

This is totally unexpected and a huge loss for BMW. The new 7 Series designer, Karim Habib, one of the top designers at BMW will …

This is totally unexpected and a huge loss for BMW. The new 7 Series designer, Karim Habib, one of the top designers at BMW will join Mercedes-Benz team. Karim  will lead the firm’s advanced design studio located in Stuttgart.

According to Autocar UK Habib will be responsible for the Mercedes-Benz F series cars and concept cars. For those of you that are not familiar with his work, Karim Habib was the head of the design team behind the amazing CS Concept which was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2007.

bmw 7 series 41 lg 498x366

Habib earned a degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University and shortly joined the famous Art Center College for Design in Switzerland. He eventually finished his studies at the US branch of the Art Center College, in California.

He was hired right out of college and joined the BMW Group where he worked closely with former BMW chief designer, Chris Bangle. He moved to Munich and joined the Advanced Design department.

After Adrian Von Hooydonk stepped up to take the Chief Designer position, it was expected that Habib will follow a similar path, taking more responsibilities. But unfortunately, as we predicted after Chris Bangle resignation, many young talents will either follow him or join other firms.

[Source: Autocar UK ]

Thanks for the tip Ale and Auday!

33 responses to “Top BMW designer, Karim Habib leaving BMW for Mercedes”

  1. Gord says:

    Whoa, I thought like Hooydonk, Habib would move up in BMW’s design department, but without Bangle it seems he just left.

    So with Van Hooydonk as chief designer for BMW Group who is the chief designer of just BMW ?

  2. mpower says:

    oh man…what’s up with everyone leaving..? damn

  3. Ahmed Rawahy says:

    damn , what a loss, traitor =)

  4. Shrawan Raja says:

    This does not sound good. Maybe these designers will be replaced by more talented ones, but this is no doubt a loss.

  5. Tom says:

    Doesn’t matter much. In any large corporation it’s the little people who do the actual work.

  6. Giom says:

    Can he step staight over into Merc offices from BMW? I thought these guys signed a (what do you call it…) restrictive trade contract where you can’t join another company for a predetermined time.

    Or is this the first step between Merc and BMWs co-operation?

  7. Jordan says:

    I’m just a fan of BMW and I really hope they do well. I can see a lot of areas in which they need to really step up the game. For example I sat in a 2005 or 06 5 series and I was kind of shocked at the choice of poor quality of materials. It didn’t in any way give me a feeling that I was in a 60-70000 car at all. They really should get on the bandwagon of making their cars light light light. Weight has just been thrown on basically at every redesign, not just BMW but virtually every manufacturer has been doing it. Audi I heard was going to in the next few years be really concentrating on cutting down their weight of their cars and to me have already got a good start on it with their space frame design and use of aluminum. I also really like what Audi is doing with their LED lights, very cool. Also like that they’ve got a really good motorsport backing, I think they could integreate it more into their line to “spice” it up, but I believe they are slowing starting to do that now.

    To be honest I think Audi has the best future plan going for them in the current economic condition and in the progression of technology. If they had reliability close to the Japanese it would be hard for me to choose BMW. They’re focusing on lightweight models, smaller engines that are full of technology to improve their fuel economy, emissions and performance. And I think they’re doing it in a cost efficient way. Cutting down weight and optimizing the small displacement engines with turbo or superchargers. BMW has some very cool tech as well and with the recent news of teaming up with NASA to find a way to use their technology to capture the wasted energy from the exhaust and using it to power electrical equipment, very cool but I dunno how “cost efficient” that is comparing it to what Audi is doing to tackle what are going to be future customer demands. Audi also has quattro and diesel experience in their portfolio.

    I must say I’ve always been a BMW fan but more recently have started to follow a bit of what Audi is up to especially after hearing about their R8, then the new A4 and the S4. I do believe BMW has correctly identified their competition as Audi instead of Mercedes, I read that awhile ago that they actually said that publicly. I don’t know too much about Mercedes’ future plans and all their fuel saving/weight losing technology that they are using, if they are. I do know they have experience with diesel.

    Anyways, after that really long spiel, I guess I was trying to say that I don’t think that this one designer, as amazing a job he has done so far, will determine success of BMW models. Bangle most ppl hated for the controversial styles yet they sold the most 7 series under his design. I think it’s more of who is “running” the company, the guys behind the scenes. The top guys are paid a lot of money they don’t really care for any spotlight so you don’t hear about them much. Ever heard of the family that owns BMW? Never knew this myself til recently. Then there are the guys who are very junior, and like someone above said, they do a lot of the designing from my understanding, which is then presented to the head designer and approved or not, then tweaked to his liking. Can’t say for a fact that’s what happens but just from what I know.

    So I just hope BMW gets lead in the right direction and I really hope they come out victorious over Audi and Mercedes in the next few centuries. I could definitely see it, BMW already has a ton going for it but it’s gonna have to keep tweaking and following what the customers want. Can’t get to the top and take a break, the ppl not at the top don’t stop working.

  8. Jordan says:

    wow i just read what i wrote. haha hope you guys can get through all that.

    …. i did write it at 1 in the morning

  9. housejunkie85 says:

    long night im assuming??!!

  10. Tom says:


    You can choose to sign a noncompete, you are offered a lot of money, but you don’t have to.

  11. Lance says:

    @Giom: called a retraint on trade…. I don’t think a designer will be subject to that because they are artists. But it is a pity for BMW.

  12. Lance says:

    @Jordan: Yes, I agree that Audi is coming up in the world, but they are far from being the best in the segment. Lots of marketing has been put into their Quattro and diesel cars, but if you compare that to BMW’s xDrive, the Quattro system is way behind, in fact, not much has changed from when they launched the Quattro system 30 years ago. In terms of diesel, have you driven a BMW diesel? compare that to the Audi diesels (VW engines), you should notice the terrible clatter and lack of refinement, stall the engine on purpose and feel that painful knock in teh engine – they are far behind in the diesel game.

    As for the LED lights, if they thought it was a brand identity feature, you’re wrong. So many other cars have it now and it is becoming boring. Look at the facelift A6 headlights, can thy not have made a more boring car? The LEDs make the car look like it is crying! Well, that’s just my opinion. BMW’s corona rings are much better with striking visual effects.

    As for the R8 and all these performance cars wannabe’s from Audi, it is pushing the brand up a bit, and that’s what BMW is lacking at the moment. BMW is pushing for fuel efficiency, which is a bit soft and not doing much to uplift brand image as a sporty car brand. On top of that, owning a BMW with RFT wll erode most of the cost savingof those tech and more. It will cost on average 5% to 10% more based on the car’s purchase price to maintain th car just because of those run flat tyres, that’s excluding the replacement due to punctures. So that’s why Audi is getting so much attention at the moment.

  13. _Auday_ says:

    I agree with you that BMW diesel is the best, but their xDrive , as good as it is right now, is not in the same category as the new 40-60 Quattro of Audi.
    Bmw’s xDrive is aiming towards convenience and bad condition driving, while the Quattro in RS4 R8 …etc is more like a track tuned 4×4.

  14. _Auday_ says:

    and with that last note, I close my quest in posting to this Blog. Was a nice fun run, and I will keep reading the blog and the comments (BMW addiction is in the blood I guess), no more comments from me though. Hope to see BMW coming up with the best cars and bring back its glorious cars of the passionates, and to see all that celebrated here.
    Cheers everybody :)

  15. kellizle says:

    Audi is BMWs closest rival, coz they have to clear Audi or else, BMW takes the 3rd position. Mercedes Benz is still the #1. I find it funny, a lot of young kids hate Mercedes.. But get it straight, Mercedes isn’t going down anytime soon.

  16. Jordan says:


    I actually do agree with you on the xDrive thing. Right now I believe xDrive can send 100% of power to the rear or the front axle “faster than the blink of an eye” and Quattro I think is only 80%.

    As for diesel I agree also that BMW, although a think a bit newer to it than Audi, has made a name for itself especially with the 335d and the 123d (they really should bring that engine to the US in the current 1 series coupe/cabriolet).

    And doing some more research (I find that you’re not always thinking optimally at 1am :) … I found that there are quite a few BMW models that are already lighter than their Audi counterpart. The A6 3.0T vs the 535i, the 535i is about 450lbs lighter! Also the A4 2.0T vs the 328i (non-AWD models) the 328i is about 190lbs lighter. Then going to the brand new 7 series vs the A8, you have to juggle the numbers a bit. The 750i is about 150lbs heavier than the A8 4.2, but it is packing 50hp and 125 ft/lb torque more than the A8 which helps it get to 60 0.8sec faster at 5.1sec and the fuel economy is 1mpg lower, both in city and highway, than the A8 at 15/22mpg. That to me is nothing, and well worth it to be in a faster car and having been at the launch party, one very sweet car, inside and out. It’d be interesting to see what the redesigned A8 will weight with their new gadgetry.

    I read Audi’s A4 outsold the 3 series in Germany… it’d be interesting to find out exactly why. Maybe they had more engine choices, maybe they got all the taxi contracts (I hear that’s a big one that will boost numbers). Anyone know?

  17. Windtalker says:


    “a lot of young kids hate Mercedes”. m…. I think it’s not hate. Just not right!!! A kid or even me drive a Mercedes, my friends would think I drove my dad or my grandad’s car!!!

    For example, put the newest E-class next to the current 5-series or A6. E-class still have the look and image for the old people….. Centainly, I would not like my friends seeing me behind the wheel of the Mercedes. I don’t want my friends think I am getting old!!!!

    I think Audi has a nice design theme in their cars, but they just not creative enongh…… Eventually, they make all the models look the same. So their cars dated very quickly. See how frequent the A6 got facelifted…..

  18. Carlos Perez says:

    mmm how do i put it.
    MB is a great brand they have great designs, but they have nothing new, is always the same, and yess their cars seem a bit old, except for the “new” C class is a pretty good looking car, but besides that they have nothing that back up that, the driving stile is good but nowere near BMW soo MB is not bad brand, but BMW is BETTER

  19. Ale says:

    I’m so tired of Audi popping up in any topic discussed (Karim Habib leaving BMW for MERCEDES = Audi)

    I can give many reasons why BMW is “better” than Audi (starting for: FWD vs RWD). But considering that many “fans” of BMW are insisting that BMW use Audi as a reference for their designs, I must say one thing: BMW does not want to be Audi (and that is pretty clear… thank God!).

    Do you really think that the A4 looks better than the 3 Series? That the A6 looks better than the 5 series? That the A8 looks better than the 7 series? That the Q7 looks better than the X5?

    OK, the A5 is a sexy car… but it is also the Audi that more uses BMW design language. In sum, Audi has a conservative design; BMW design is quite the opposite.

    I think this paragraph of Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards expresses perfectly what I think about BMW design “Parking next to a BMW, fans of the brand’s styling will contend, is a sure way to make most any competitor look boring”. Exactly!!

    BMW should take Audi very seriously, but never take it as a reference. BMW does not follow, BMW is always leading.

    And to those who criticizes BMW investment in EfficientDynamics: BMW made an enormous investment in this technology, but it is unquestionable that they did the right thing. Today, BMW builds the most efficient premium cars worldwide. When everyone is talking about green vehicles, BMW is leading the way… again.

    ps (sorry for my english!)

  20. Carlos Perez says:

    LOL U got that rigth BMW dosen´t have a referece,
    BMW do not follow anyone, it lead,
    Inovation is the word

  21. Gord says:

    Maybe Habib and Bangle left because they knew BMW lost a good deal of profit (90% is mentioned in Horatiu’s article).

  22. Lawrence says:

    Well, he’s leaving. Mayby he got tired of working on boring stuff at BMW, but I dont really blame him because Mercedes is truly working on some amazing stuff and from what I read there sales is way higher than BMW’s. But thats how the buisness goes. Dont hate the man he’s just trying to get his name on the automotive map and started off good by redesigning the new 7 series.

  23. Nizer says:

    For all the controversy – more self-serving media driven than anything – surrounding Bangle’s design language, it ushered in a whole new era of record sales growth for BMW and countless imitators. Unfortunately, ever since those first ground-breaking designs the order of the day at BMW has hewed to playing it safe via toned-down derivative design. If I were a hot young designer looking to push the envelope I’m sure not sure BMW would be the place to be at the moment. Let’s hope they get back to pushing cutting-edge design.

  24. Nizer says:

    BTW, I’m a BMW fan and an owner, but for all those that think Audi isn’t a threat I’m sorry to say the numbers don’t support the arguments:

  25. Ale says:


    I am not saying that Audi isn’t a threat for BMW (“BMW should take Audi very seriously”) I am just saying that copying Audi is not the best way to deal with that threat.

    BMW bad numbers has little to do with Audi (maybe… the worst ECONOMIC CRISIS the world has seen in many years!)

    And you will probably say “but Audi numbers are not that bad”.. yeap, but the crisis was particulary hard on the US, BMW biggest market. Audi´s numbers in the US still very small. Plus, Audi is under VW´s umbrella (the biggest european car maker) and they benefit a lot from the synergies with VW, Porsche, Lamborgini, etc. So I think is very unfair to compare “corporate BMW” to “corporate Audi” (we are not talking about cars here any more) If you compare BMW to Daimler (a much fair comparison) you will see that BMW is doing better.(

    Well.. and that´s all I am going to say about Audi; because I am tired of this subject and because is really hard for me to write in english (40 min to write this little sh….)


  26. Ale says:

    Just one more thing!

    Karim Habib: YOU SUCK!

    sorry, but I have to get it out :)

  27. Nizer says:

    @Ale: Agreed. BMW absolutely should not copy Audi. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts for BMW as I see them:

    – continue valuing total driving dynamics over discreet metrics
    – making in-line six engines
    – value light-weight over raw horsepower as a means to improved speed, handling, and effeciency.
    – get back to pushing the design envelope
    – continue offering RWD as primary drive layout
    – reign in the amount of cheap plastic showing up in vehicles
    – improve the quality of materials
    – build the CS Concept

    – continue dumbing down offerings for US market (we hate this)
    – continue to limit option choices for US customers
    – ever go to 4WD only
    – let the US Gov dictact the hybrid technology pursued
    – stop specifying RF tires as standard
    – continue relying on derivative design

  28. Nizer says:

    Oh, wait. I meant “do” stop specifying RF tires as standard.

  29. Johanne says:

    Whoa, that is news to me. Totally unexpected. I wonder how much more Mercedes-Benz is offering him.

  30. Abdul says:

    Don’t worry people! I assure you that i’ll take care of BMW’s work in a few years!

  31. mark says:

    good, bmw should only employ

  32. mike says:

    Great news for mercedes. Hope BMW will find a excellent designer like him.

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