Since 2011, Andreas Deufel has officially been Director of Design at Great Wall Motors (GWM) in China. In his role, he is responsible for GWM’s three design studios, all in Bao Ding, yet he still maintains his position as Design Director at TJ Innova Auto and Design & Engineering (TJI), where he is also responsible for three studios.

长城汽车设计总监 Andreas Deufel

Deufel’s appointment to the position as Design Director at GWM was anything but conventional. Since beginning work as Design Director at TJI in April 2010 he has been responsible for the development company’s studios in Nanhui/Shanghai, Wuxi/Jiangsu and Boa Ding/Hebei, and a total of nearly 100 staff.

Based in Shanghai’s Pudong district, Deufel has also been overseeing GWM’s three design studios since August 2010. His role as Design Director at TJI – the largest independent vehicle development company in China, which accounts for approximately 30 percent of all vehicles developed in the country – started the relationship with GWM, which blossomed into a position within the company.

“Originally GWM was one of my customers,” Deufel told Car Design News, “But in November 2010 I was asked to accept an official and direct Director position with them.”

As of January 2011 Deufel has been in charge of all design activities at GWM, responsible for not only the company’s own design team but of contractors working for other design suppliers. Approximately 100 designers are under his watch, working feverishly to develop 11 new cars in 2011, following the 10 new cars that will be introduced in the market this year.

Deufel says that 2011 will see the definition and development of a distinctive corporate design language, which will first be applied on the new flagship sedan set to be launched in 2013. “The design will be European/German in its flavor,” he said.

GWM, which last year sold approximately 400,000 vehicles, plans to sell between 1.5m and 2m new cars by 2015. And they plan to do it through design. As Design Director for such an ambitious brand, Deufel’s assignment is not simple, but his prior experience working for German carmakers Audi and Mercedes-Benz, US truck builder Freightliner and SAIC Motors in the UK has set the foundation.

Deufel’s first goal at GWM is to replace most of the line-up in the next two to three years, applying facelifts to current products in the meantime. This will be followed by an extension of the product range into three main product groups – SUV, sedan, pickup – all while diversifying the brand upmarket. He is also on the cusp of finalizing GWM’s new development center and is preparing new vehicles that will make their debuts at the 2012 Beijing and 2013 Shanghai motor shows, respectively.

Besides setting out to bring R&D quality to Korean standards by 2013, and to European/German standards by 2015, Deufel is also planning to implement newly developed strong CI parameters (one of first necessities successfully completed) to the whole product line.

Deufel cites some of his current challenges as the speed of growth in the teams and operation. GWM is investing heavily in real estate, buildings and tools to streamline its processes and develop its forthcoming product range and Deufel is at the heart of the operation, raising the levels of design quality and working in conjunction with the engineering teams. He is also in the process of changing towards and encouraging a creative culture as a basis for an original product with a strong DNA.

“Working in an entirely Chinese situation is massively challenging in itself but luckily I have managed to develop an excellent rapport with my CEOs and VPs,” Deufel told CDN. “It does help to have almost every wish granted immediately.”

GWM’s rate of expansion is also impressive. Since the end of the school year the company has taken on a further 20 graduates to work in the design studios in Bao Ding and Nanhui. A studio in Germany is in planning as is a completely new facility in Boa Ding, which will be ready in 2013.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design, Deufel originally studied product design at Schwäbisch Gmünd in Germany before receiving a Transportation Design Degree from Pforzheim University. Over the span of his career, he has been responsible for the first generation A3, the V8 DTM and the A4 Avant ‘Kamm Heck’ during his tenure as Creative Designer Exterior at Audi in Ingolstadt. He was then heavily involved in the development of the facelift of the W210 E-Class, the R230 SL-Class, the Maybach, R170 SLK, C208 CLK, W 203, and the Pope’s Landaulet while employed as Creative Designer Exterior/Interior at Mercedes-Benz, Sindelfingen.

After becoming General Manager Design, Light Trucks, with Freightliner USA, Deufel moved from Germany to the US west coast, working in that capacity until he returned to Mercedes-Benz in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The company was running a joint venture with Nissan Diesel/UD Japan, and Deufel was appointed Studio Leader Light Trucks. A few years later Deufel returned to Mercedes-Benz in Sindelfingen as Design Project Manager for the ML-, GL-, R- and G-Class, before moving to the UK where he worked with SAIC on the MG 5 concept. In 2010 he relocated to China and was appointed Director of Design at TJI.