Mercedes-Benz on exterior design, new tools and why specialism still matters


Car Design News chats to Achim Badstübner, head of exterior design at Mercedes-Benz

With the onset of EVs, AVs and AI, exterior design is in a real state of flux. Aerodynamics seems to have been pushed up the hierarchy but alongside an increasing appetite for unique, futuristic designs that feel in-line with a battery-powered vehicle that can in certain situations drive itself. It is becoming quite the juggling act.

At Mercedes, the man tasked with leading exterior design is Achim Badstübner, who joined from Audi in 2013 and has had a hand in models like the GLE and CLA. Car Design News took the opportunity to sit down with him during the Munich-based Car Design Event to talk all things exteriors, hiring and how the role of the designer is evolving.

Norbert Weber, Stefan Sielaff, Achim Badstübner, Harald Schwonburg

Achim Badstübner in his Audi days pictured with Norbert Weber (far left), Stefan Sielaff (centre) and Harald Schwonburg (far right)

We have heard a growing narrative from some OEMs that cars are being designed from the inside out. As an exterior designer, does this resonate with you?

I don’t really agree with that thinking, personally. It is a bit of a marketing angle. In a way it is true because you do have a package to work with – you need to know where the steering wheel is, how much space you have to play with – so you have to start with the technical things. But you don’t necessarily start with the instrument panel. If you look at our EQS with the Hyperscreen, of course the screen is a major part of the design but we didn’t start with that and build everything around it. The interior is a very early input and one aspect, but not the jumping off point.

The approach will vary from brand to brand, I suppose, but yes – the exterior is usually what draws you in.

Exterior is…

We’re glad you’re enjoying Car Design News

To continue reading this article and others like it SIGN-IN or SUBSCRIBE TODAY

For a one-time only 30 DAY FREE TRIAL REGISTER HERE

This article is available to CDN subscribers only
SUBSCRIBE TODAY to gain full access

CDN Comp Tablet phone image2

The benefits of your subscription include:

Access to motor show and concours coverage, trend and technology reports, design reviews of new and classic concept and production cars, exclusive interviews, regional reports, who’s where, design essays, career resources, design competitions, regular newsletter updates PLUS comprehensive degree show reports from the world’s leading design schools, the CDN archive of sketches, images and articles spanning 20 years of coverage.


An online subscription also gains you access to exclusive designer interviews from our annual Car Design Review yearbook, and access to exclusive interior design reviews from Interior Motives magazine. You can also receive Interior Motives in print through our online + print subscription, or buy individual copies of Interior Motives and Car Design Review.


Fees start from £55/€60/$70. Packages available for students, individuals, schools and corporates.

cdn-newspress-award-banner      cdn-newspress-award-banner

Gain full access to subscribe today

For a one-time only 30 DAY FREE TRIAL REGISTER HERE

ALREADY SUBSCRIBED - Individual, Studio, Student or School

You now need to register your details and sign-in for full access to

here