Geely taps former Bentley exec Sielaff to succeed Horbury as design chief thumbnail

Geely taps former Bentley exec Sielaff to succeed Horbury as design chief

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Stefan Sielaff, a former head of design at Bentley, has been appointed head of global design at the Geely Auto Group.

Sielaff succeeds Peter Horbury, who will move to UK sports-car maker Lotus as senior vice president of design, Geely said in a statement.

Horbury, an Engllishman, has been Geely’s head of design since 2011 after holding top jobs with Volvo and Ford’s Premier Automotive Group. At Lotus, which is owned by Geely, he will work at alongside Russell Carr, who remains Lotus design director.

Horbury, 71, hinted in an interview with Automotive News Europe in March that he was keen on switching to Lotus as he reduced his workload at Geely.

“I must say the Lotus projects that we have started, I am going to find it hard to let them go. They are so exciting,” he said. “You can imagine that having the chance to design a new Lotus is something I would like to stay with a little while longer.

Sielaff, 59, will oversee design at Geely’s namesake brand Geely Auto, as well as at Lynk & CO, EV brand Geometry and Proton. He will also support the development of Geely’s new premium EV brand Zeekr.

He will be based in Gothenburg, Sweden. He will not manage design for its Volvo and Polestar brands.

Sielaff’s appointment comes as Chinese automakers are increasing their push to appeal to more global markets, which present tougher competition than at home.

Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and a 9.7 percent stake in Daimler, has increased its focus on more premium designs as it looks to boost car prices.

The increased focus comes as auto design is becoming more challenging, with the move to electric cars and smarter driving systems that include more exterior sensors.

Sielaff, from Munich, Germany,  joined Bentley as head of design in 2015 after moving from his job as head of Volkswagen Group’s Potsdam design center.

He began his design career in 1990 at Audi’s interior design department, before leaving to join DaimlerChrysler. He returned in 2006 to lead Audi design.

Sielaff was succeeded at Bentley by Audi’s head of exterior styling Andreas Mindt in January.

Reuters contributed to this report