BMW Group design chief Chris Bangle is leaving BMW and the automotive industry 'in order to pursue his own design-related endeavours'.
 
Adrian van Hooydonk, head of design for the BMW brand, will succeed Bangle with immediate effect.
 
Bangle will perhaps be best remembered for ushering in a new look for BMWs at the turn of the decade. When the E65 7-series  was introduced late in 2001, its exterior styling became a source of considerable controversy. The flamboyant lines that culminated in the raised boot lid (dubbed the 'Bangle Butt') jarred with many conservative-minded BMW loyalists.
 
But despite a few ruffled feathers (which were further ruffled when the next 5-series took its design cues from the E65), BMW says its outgoing 7-series was the most popular large luxury saloon in its history.
 
"Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group's brands. His contribution to the company's success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear and aesthetic route into the future," said Klaus Draeger, BMW AG's board member for development.
 
Born in the USA, Christopher Bangle, aged 52, has been head of BMW Group design development since October 1992. After studying at the University of Wisconsin and the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, California, he began his working life at Opel in Rüsselsheim. In 1985, he joined Fiat, where he became director of Fiat Centro Stile in 1992. Shortly afterwards, he left the Italian automaker for Munich.

Throughout his career with BMW, Bangle's right-hand man has been Adrian van Hooydonk, who is now set to become his successor.

He described van Hooydonk as "truly a top professional in our business," adding, "I am sure that the many strong design strategies he has helped us create for the BMW Group will continue to develop and evolve."

Van Hooydonk, 44, will take over as director of BMW Group Design with immediate effect. In his new position he will be responsible for design development for the BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini brands.

Born in the Netherlands, van Hooydonk studied at Delft Polytechnic University in Holland and later at the Art Center Europe in Vevey, Switzerland, until 1992. From there he came to Munich, where he joined BMW as a designer. In the year 2000 he went to California to work for the BMW Group subsidiary Designworks USA. He was Director of the internationally renowned design agency from 2001 to 2004. Then, under Bangle as the BMW Group's Head of Design, he became Head of the Brand Design Studio for BMW Automobiles.

BMW says the 6 Series and 7 Series lines clearly bear the hallmark of van Hooydonk's design influence, as do the Z9 Concept Car, the BMW Concept CS (unveiled in 2007) and the M1 Hommage Study. In 1997 van Hooydonk created the ACV 30 Show Car for Mini and more recently he and his team have developed the designs for the new BMW 7 Series and Z4 as well as for the Concept Progressive Activity Sedan, which celebrates its premiere at the Geneva Auto Show in early March 2009.

"I am honoured and extremely excited to take on this new responsibility", says van Hooydonk. "BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce produce the best cars and motorcycles in their segment, and I am really looking forward to being able to contribute to the future development of these brands."

Speaking of his hopes for the years to come, van Hooydonk added: "I have no doubt that there are challenges ahead, but BMW's depth in engineering and the passion of its talented design team are as strong as ever. Together I am sure we will be able to create some very sophisticated and extremely attractive concepts."

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