Audi's top designer to quit - magazine

BERLIN Thu Dec 5, 2013 9:34am EST

BERLIN Dec 5 (Reuters) - Audi's chief designer will quit at the end of the year, the latest in a string of high-level departures from a company wrestling with BMW for dominance of the luxury car market, Germany's Auto Bild magazine reported.

Wolfgang Egger, who has led vehicle design at Volkswagen's Audi and Lamborghini brands since 2007, will move to a leading position at VW-owned Italodesign Giugiaro, the weekly magazine said in an excerpt ahead of publication on Friday.

He will be replaced by Marc Lichte, a senior designer at VW's core passenger-car brand who has helped shape the latest version of the Golf hatchback, VW's best-selling model, Auto Bild said. Prior to joining Audi, Egger held positions at Fiat's Alfa Romeo and Lancia brands.

Ingolstadt-based Audi declined to comment. Parent company VW did not return calls seeking comment.

Egger's departure, if confirmed, would come six months after development chief Wolfgang Duerheimer was sacked. An Audi management shake-up in 2012 had already forced out three other executives.

Egger launched a new design strategy in November 2012 to emphasize technology features in auto design with a goal of underlining differences between Audi's passenger cars, performance models and SUVs.

Audi sales grew 6.7 percent in October from a year earlier to 131,950 luxury cars and sport-utility vehicles on demand for the compact A3 and Q3 models.

Audi plans to create a more distinctive image for high-end models and sportier vehicles, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

An effort by the prestigious VW brand to keep its No. 2 spot in global luxury car sales risks stalling without a new technology drive. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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