Péter Varga: Porsche will probably be the last car to have a steering wheel

A complex task

Of the marketing and development departments, it is clearly the latter that has a greater say in the design of the cars at Porsche, but according to Varga, this varies from brand to brand. At Porsche, the marketers are more concerned with how the cars are sold, but there are also German brands where marketing and design work much more closely together.

The cars also have to be manufactured, so there is constant consultation with the production as well. Varga also gave a good example of thinking together:

The rear fender of the 911 is one of the most complicated elements in the automotive industry, and it is also a large part, the production of which requires one of the largest tools in the industry. Here, ping pong goes on for months to ensure that the shape the designers want and the width of the car, the corresponding press will work, because the rear fender has to be manufactured not only once, but tens of thousands of times a year. There are people who deal with this, make prototype tools, and tell you where the material will tear based on the simulation, because the fender needs to be a little narrower, or the roofline needs to be brought out.

The rear fender of the Porsche is very wide, which looks frank, but it has its limits, says Varga. The tool must press through this depth. This match is played with every car, with the Cayenne in the same way as with the 911. According to Varga, the latter is one of the longest in terms of the length of the planning process.

If I was given the task of making new 911 sketches by next week, it would be a much bigger headache than with other models,

says the lead designer.

By the time the design team reaches the point where the car in the plans looks like a 911, it is quite a long process, especially since technical and legal requirements must be met, crash tests, pedestrian protection and aerodynamics must also be taken into account. With electric cars, range is also an issue. At Porsche, it was always about having a lot of downforce, how fast the car is in a corner, and not about how much it consumes.

And then we didn’t even talk about the fact that tastes differ from region to region, that customers in China, the United States or Europe expect different things from a car. There are also brands that react to this, and Porsche cannot completely ignore this factor either. But just because, say, the Chinese like a full illuminated grille, that doesn’t mean every automaker should make cars like that.

For a new model, the first size they design is a 1:3 scale, sometimes they make a 1:10 model for themselves, but that is only so that they can be there at the meetings, but the 1:3 model is the common one, because the it’s so big that you perceive it in the same way as the real thing, explains Varga, who also revealed that the first models at Porsche were silver, so he can figure out where the design needs to be modified.

Changes in car design

Cars are typically built higher and higher, urban off-road vehicles are taking over, even the smallest brands are raising the models, they are designed a bit more sharply, according to Varga, they are too sporty, but this trend will remain for the time being.

Nobody gets into a sedan after years of driving a car that’s a little higher, it’s easier to get out of, and you can see what’s going on better when you’re inside, says the chief designer, who liked the older, lower-built cars better. the Honda Civic models, the Golf 4,

in these, the person was still sitting inside and not on the car, but the latter are probably more functional in everyday life.

Many changes have also been made to the headlights and taillights of the cars, Porsche continues to develop a “hard” design strategy, and according to Varga, this direction will not be abandoned for a while. A few brands have tried to copy this, but it’s difficult to improve on the details, and it’s also quite expensive fun. The Germans say that the headlights have a cool and warm design, referring to how the lamp and the car itself look when the headlight is on or off. Since nowadays the headlights are also on during the day, a completely different design comes to face you, the designers have to work together with the on and off state, in addition to Péter Varga, a separate group works on the development of the headlights and rear lights.

In addition to the lights, there are also parts of the car that will probably go through a major transformation in the coming years, and Péter Varga hopes for that, because it can make a car look much more modern. The mirror and the door handle can be external parts whose design will change, giving them a more modern look.

However, the really big changes don’t necessarily happen outside, but inside the car,

for many, the inside is almost more important than the outside,

says Varga, who believes that until autonomous driving becomes widespread – and according to him it may take a long time – the car will remain a car. From the moment that such a box can go from A to B on its own, one can start to argue about whether it needs an emotional design, or whether it needs so many elements at all, or whether the car will be more of a functional object that takes passengers home.

According to Varga, Porsche will probably be the last car to have a steering wheel.

The question is, do you feel like driving when everyone else is driving autonomous cars?

Electric cars

One of the hottest trends in the automotive industry is the rise of electric cars, and this has brought changes on the design side as well, mainly in that it has given designers more freedom in design. However, there are many similarities between internal combustion and electric cars, since the electric car also needs a lot of cooling, air inlets are needed, the methods of bringing the air in from the front or from the bottom, from the floor, differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, explains Varga.

When they started working on this last year, they thought that electric cars were coming and that they could design the nose part of the car in a completely different way. There are also electric cars that are completely closed, but the design of the nose also depends on performance, since if the car works with a small battery, a much more closed shape can be made for it, the designer pointed out.

Electric cars have more design freedom, especially in recent years, because internal combustion cars have several components at the back that electric cars don’t have, such as the muffler, the catalyst or the AdBlue tank for diesel cars, so there are more options for electric models at the back, however, this is no longer necessarily true at the front of the car, not least because not only the components located in the engine compartment determine the nose part, but also pedestrian protection affects the shape.

However, the fact is that if the car does not have a large V8 engine in the front, the shape can be shaped a little differently,

says Varga, who hopes that the shape of the 911 will not change once it becomes fully electric. And whether it will be possible to sell it, whether the electric 911 will be of interest to buyers, Varga brought up examples from the past: after the air-cooled 911 came the water-cooled 911, to which everyone said that it would not work , after which Porsche sold one million of them. Then came the turbo engine models, and buyers started to buy up the previous naturally aspirated 911s, but the turbo models also sold well because they were the new ones, meaning there was always interest in the new models even after the engine types changed. Let’s say the 911 will come with a hybrid system, throw in the idea Varga. According to him, the buyers will also say that it looks like the 911, they will go with it and say that it goes like that. The chief designer is not worried about this.

Career at Porsche

Péter Varga attended the design school in Pforzheim, then worked as an intern at Porsche, where he also got a job, and where he has been working since 2004. His first project at Porsche was the bumper of the first generation Panamera. He worked on the whole car, but the main designer was Grant Larson, an American designer, he was responsible for the car and Varga worked for him. He is currently involved with every Porsche model, all projects he was involved in, either as a designer or as a team leader.

Varga has been working at Porsche for 18 years and can imagine that he will be designing Porsches for the rest of his life. During his career, he had the opportunity to change several times, but during the 18 years he always had a new task. A few years ago, he was even more hungry for more success and responsibility, but now it could also be that due to his family situation (he has a wife and two little girls), other factors are also important.

Varga admits that he is very critical, and his colleagues know that, he tells you directly if something doesn’t fit, but he doesn’t think it should be taken personally, the atmosphere in the workplace is always good. And who can get into your team? When asked if there would be a chance for a Hungarian designer to get in, Varga said that he would, but it doesn’t matter to him who comes from where, just pass, they will try to filter out the best. Most often, they come to practice with them during the school term, and they choose who will stay there. On the other hand, it is not typical for a designer from other companies with many years of experience to come to them, the last 4-5 people they hired are all self-educated. The point is teamwork, Varga always compares their work to a soccer team, where you have to accept that not everyone can score goals, because if everyone wants to score goals, then it’s not a soccer team anymore. It is not true that there are no female car designers, but the majority are men, Varga’s team currently consists only of men. There are already several women in the passenger compartment, Varga’s wife is also a passenger designer, and that’s how they met.

What does Péter Varga like?

When asked about his favorite Porsche, he mentions the first 911 turbo, he would have accepted it, in black. And what do you think is the most beautiful car ever made? According to Varga, everyone would probably say a Porsche, a Ferrari, a Mercedes or a Jaguar. He has the Mercedes 300 SL, that car is a bit heavy, but it is very beautiful, says Varga.

There was a project at Porsche that he was very interested in, but he did not participate in it due to other commitments. They did a project with Star Wars two years ago, which later became a model, a spaceship. He would have liked to have worked on this project alone, if only for the challenge.

Varga was a big Schumacher fan, currently he has no favorite driver. He does not know if he will work on a Formula 1 project, there is no word on that yet. We just worked on a racing car, it was the first time in a long time that he worked with motorsport colleagues.

You can watch the full Porsche Creative Talks here:

Photos: Hirling Balint

Source: Portfolio.hu – Üzlet by www.portfolio.hu.

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