Volvo Cars' decision to pick an executive to lead its design team who has no experience at a traditional automaker could become a new industry trend.
"This is the first but unlikely the last move where an automaker shakes up its design by bringing in someone who is not a longtime car design boss," Sam Livingstone, who is director of consultancy Car Design Research, told Automotive News Europe. "I believe that a number of other brands will be observing this move with a lot of interest and a fair bit of apprehension."
Incoming Volvo global styling boss Jeremy Offer has more than 30 years' experience as a designer, but this will be his first top-level post at a global automaker.
The 55-year-old executive, who will start May 1, comes to Volvo from electric van startup Arrival, where he serves as senior vice president and chief design officer. Prior to joining Arrival, Offer was head of industrial design and part of the senior management team at global consulting firm EPAM, where he helped bring service and industrial design to their wider consulting practice.
'Tip of the iceberg'
"I think this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a looming bigger shake-up of automotive design because of the move to software-defined, autonomous and electric cars," Livingstone said.
When asked about the decision, Volvo CEO Jim Rowan acknowledged that it was an out-of-the-box choice.