December 5, 2013 / 4:41 PM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Audi's top designer to quit - magazine

(Adds detail on Italdesign and models)

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 brand 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 Italdesign Giugiaro, the weekly magazine said in an excerpt ahead of publication on Friday.

Acquired by VW in 2010, Italdesign Giugiaro has been designing and engineering models at facilities near Turin for major carmakers including VW, Fiat and BMW since 1971. VW models mapped out by the company include the first-generation Golf hatchback and the Scirocco coupe.

Cars conceived by Egger that won international awards last year include Audi’s A6 sedan for its expressive design language and the A3 compact for interior and exterior designs.

Egger 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, 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.

With some analysts saying that Audi’s design had grown stale in recent years, Egger launched a new strategy in November 2012 to emphasize technology features in auto design with a goal of underlining differences between the brand’s passenger cars, performance models and sport-utility vehicles.

Audi continues to do well in growing sales volumes. Sales in October rose 6.7 percent from a year earlier to 131,950 luxury cars and SUVs, giving a 10-month increase of 7.5 percent to 1.31 million. That compares with luxury-sales leader BMW’s 1.35 million.

However, some fear Audi’s success risks stalling without a new technology drive.

To keep up momentum, Audi plans to create a more distinctive image for high-end models and sportier vehicles, a source with direct knowledge of the matter has told Reuters. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Mark Potter)

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