A conversation with Werner Haumayr, Vice President BMW Group Design Concept and Integration and New Cluster Architecture Experience

»From the flute to the oboe, from the drums to the piano, from the violin to the great Whole «: When Werner Haumayr talks about the manifold design and innovation activities that have moulded his career and which »foster a cross-disciplinary as well as a holistic mindset«, he likes to compare the individual roles and the interplay of his team to that of an orchestra. Today, one of his duties is to come up with new pieces »for which there may not be any instruments yet – in other words, to create scenarios that anticipate new possibilities and, with that, futures.« In his forty years with BMW Group, Haumayr himself hasn’t skipped virtually any assignment: from apprentice in the modelling department to product modelling and software development to innovation orchestration in design. A career that not only reflects a great deal of his inquisitive and open-minded nature, but just as much of the culture and spirit within the company.

Design for the mobility society of tomorrow

Since the late 1990s, Haumayr’s thoughts have always revolved around just that one step ahead; he develops visions of mobility, of circularity, of design and digitality. To do so, he systematically pulls on board dialogue partners from all over the world who have gained international attention for their particular view of the world. He discusses with them not only technical but also cultural issues, given that »interactions through symbols or gestures which work well in one culture can have extremely negative connotations in another ... We offer products for the whole world, so we always have to hit the sweet spot between different needs, points of view and cultural idiosyncrasies. « These »infights«, as Haumayr fondly calls the dialogue sessions, look three to five years ahead and develop a variety of scenarios for the future of mobility. Design plays a key role in this process, where the shift in the impact of design on society becomes especially clear. The pure doctrine of »form follows function no longer applies«, Haumayr asserts.

»I believe in ‚design follows experience‘ to be true. Design is not the glossy surface. Design needs to become and stay relevant, as the fulfilment of an experience that has meaning and that puts people at its centre.«


This is Haumayr’s guiding principle, which also adds new meaning to the BMW slogan »Sheer driving pleasure «, because driving today no longer merely refers to »cross acceleration«, as Haumayr calls the interaction of horsepower, rpm and centrifugal force in carmaker lingo. Rather, it refers to the car as an overall experience and mobile environment with the passenger compartment at its heart. »If you just look at how much time per year people spend in their cars – I mean, who else enjoys the luxury of having customers spend that much time with their product? We take that very seriously, because it is not just about driving: it is about making people feel good. And so, entertainment also matters, and being able to go about your business when you get stuck in traffic. And when you drive, you should feel in control and, of course, feel the joy too.« A key technology term for this new automotive pleasure is »seamlessness«, which describes the smooth transition from digital devices such as smartphones or tablets to the car’s on-board computer and vice versa. »This still needs to become much, much more people-friendly,« Haumayr believes. »It has to become easier, simpler, and this is also where the research and development of future digital communication is put to use.«

Fully electric and customised for the urban avant-garde

Naturally, electric mobility also plays a prominent role in the future scenarios under Haumayr’s purview. At last year’s International Motor Show (IAA) in Munich, what caused a big buzz was a two-wheeler that not only shatters any previous notions of what a pedelec could look like, but also the prevailing legal framework for the approval of such a state-of-the-art vehicle: the BMW i Vision Amby High-Speed Pedelec – a project close to Haumayr‘s hear, being an avid cyclist himself. This vehicle has three basic speeds: 25, 40 and 60 km/h, and the ultra-modern Geofencing method identifies whether you are driving on a cycle lane, a field track or on the road. The maximum speed is automatically adjusted accordingly. Bicycle or light motorbike – that could be the question here. For Haumayr, however, such categories no longer matter: »Seemingly fixed categories are breaking open everywhere – and that’s a good thing.«

»In the future, classifications such as ‚car‘, ‚bicycle‘ and ‚motorbike‘ should not determine what we think, develop and offer. Instead, this paradigm shift allows us to tailor products to the peoples’ lifestyle and mobility patterns.«

It remains to be seen whether the legislator will concede to readjusting the framework conditions for the mobility of tomorrow. We can only hope that Werner Haumayr’s new mobility thinking, which reconciles high-tech and sustainability, will not be thwarted by a rearward-looking bureaucracy – again, a matter of horizon. Haumayr himself compares his roadtrip into the future in his very own witty way to a tour of a building: »What will I find inside? Behind every door, a new world could be awaiting me – and it might also just be the broom closet«. Or as he puts it: »You have to be ready to step through a door where you either go Bam! or Damn!«

Werner Haumayr

»Thinking ahead« is the domain of Werner Haumayr, who has long since moved beyond the design mantra »form follows function«. When he looks into the future, the course is laid out by the ever-changing lifestyle patterns. With people being put first, at the centre, sustainability and high technology, culture and digitality will then fall into place.

BMW Group

With its four brands, BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, BMW Group is the world‘s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles. The corporation consistently places sustainability and efficient resource management at the core of its strategic alignment – from supply chain and production to the end-of-life phase. BMW Group operates a global distribution network in more than 140 countries.

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The conversation with Werner Haumayr was first published in the mcbw MAG as part of mcbw 2022.