Audi boss Döllner brings in new chief designer from JLR

After appointing several top management positions, Audi CEO Gernot Döllner is also installing a new head of the design department. Massimo Frascella will replace Marc Lichte as Chief Designer on 1 June, although Lichte will remain with the Group.

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Frascella (52) has held senior positions at JLR since 2011, most recently as “Head of Design for both brands,” Audi writes in the press release. However, this is only true to a limited extent, as JLR is known to have abolished Land Rover as a brand and refers to the previous models as brands under the JLR umbrella in its “House of Brands.” At Audi, the designer will be nothing less than “setting the course for the coming generations of Audi models.” In the car industry, the transition to electrically powered cars that can (potentially) drive autonomously is imminent – both technology changes also require a new design – or enable a new design, to put it optimistically.

Audi boss Gernot Döllner has high expectations of his new chief designer. “Design has always been part of the brand’s core, of the DNA of the Audi brand. That is why, especially during this phase of technological transformation, ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ must be visible and tangible in the interior and exterior of all coming series models,” says Döllner. “Massimo Frascella will ensure Audi vehicles are going to embody the brand’s identity through an unmistakable and emotional design language. Clarity, precision, and perfect proportions are at the centre of his design philosophy – qualities that seamlessly fit into the image of the Audi brand.”

Frascella states that the essence of his approach to design is “simplicity.” “I am passionate about creating designs that are free from superfluous ornaments and do not merely follow trends. Instead, we will rely on a timeless and sophisticated design language,” says the new Audi designer. “II am deeply honored to assume the role of Chief Creative Officer and to guide such a talented team in shaping the future of the brand to new heights of innovation and distinction.”

In recent years, Audi has presented several concept studies for the upcoming technology changes, which outlined the brand’s future with the four rings, from a van-like concept to an elegant electric convertible. These studies were designed under Marc Lichte, who has been Head of Audi Design since 2014. Lichte’s tenure at Audi also saw the creation of the brand’s first independent EV model series – the e-tron, the e-tron GT and the Q4 model family.

Lichte will no longer be allowed to implement this future – at least not at Audi. According to the press release, he will take on other tasks within the Group. His successor, Massimo Frascella, will probably focus entirely on electric cars: As reported, Audi only wants to launch new models on the global market from 2026 that are purely electrically powered.

Audi boss Döllner, who succeeded Markus Duesmann on 1 September 2023, is currently implementing his “Audi Agenda,” with which he wants to future-proof the premium brand, for example, with “Software Defined Vehicles” and more efficiencies and synergies in planning and development. As a result, there have already been numerous personnel changes at the management level a few weeks ago, but not yet in the Board of Management.


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