BMW, the best-selling foreign car brand in Korea, has developed the right chemistry with Korean customers in recent years. The nation is the fourth-largest market for the high-end 7 Series behind China, the U.S. and Germany.
Its design head Karim Habib, who is credited with the current 7 Series design, also well understands Koreans’ passion for cars and the German luxury brand.
“Thank you for your passion and enthusiasm. We will keep providing cars that will hopefully fuel that passion,” he said in a recent emailed interview with The Korea Herald.
|BMW’s design head Karim Habib. (BMW Group)|
The 43-year-old Lebanon-born Canadian joined BMW in 1998 and was responsible for the design of several important BMW models, including the bold CS Concept sedan and the current 3 and 7 Series vehicles.
He defected to work at Mercedes-Benz in 2009, but was lured back shortly after in 2011. He took office as BMW’s design chief in June last year.
“For me, BMW is like a second family. But I was always keen to expand my knowledge and I tried out a lot of things,” he said of his short stint at the archrival carmaker.
“I strongly believe that you have to keep taking on new challenges in order to grow as an individual.”
BMW, like other premium car brands, is pinning high hopes on Asia and focusing resources on the region.
Habib, who is inspired by artwork, product and furniture design, and even buildings, also admitted that he loves the combination of restraint and warmth as design inspiration that are found in many Asian cultures.
“Yet I cannot pretend to bring all Asian aesthetic languages into one group. I think there are many differences between, for example, Chinese, Japanese or Korean design and architecture,” he said.
But he made it clear that BMW does not create a specific design for Asia or other markets, saying: “Asians will buy a BMW for exactly the same reason Europeans and Americans do.”
“BMW customers buy BMW for the inner values and design of these vehicles. That has a lot to do with the values and history of the BMW brand,” he said. “We observe cultural and social trends around the whole world and allow them to filter into our designs as well.”
The top automotive designer, who is currently finalizing the next X4 SUV design, kindly declined to pinpoint his favorite BMW model.
“Today I always say my dream car is the next BMW model. As a designer you’re constantly coming up with new ideas, you want to perfect the design,” he said.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com