The announcement has been commented as unexpected, and while the official press release do not mention any connection with the Dieselgate scandal, it’s likely that this might have played a role in De Silva’s decision.
Volkswagen has also announced Walter de Silva will continue to work with the Group an an external advisor.
About Walter De Silva
He began his professional career at the Fiat Design Centre in Turin in 1972. He joined Studio R. Bonetto in Milan in 1975 and worked as Head of the Industrial Design and Automobiles Area at the Instituto Idea in Turin from 1979 to 1986.
After a short stint working for “Trussardi Design Milano”, he switched to Alfa Romeo in 1986, where he was Head of Design until 1998. De Silva established a new design philosophy for the brand with the Alfa Romeo 156 (1997).
He joined the Volkswagen Group 17 years ago when he became Head of the SEAT Design Centre in 1998.
In 2002 he was put in charge of the design of the Audi brand group, including the brands Audi, Lamborghini and SEAT.
His new design language with Audi was epitomized by the 6th generation of the Audi A6 and Audi A5 Coupé.
He was appointed Head of Group Design at Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft in 2007.
Walter de Silva saw the main focus of his work as design chief in establishing and nurturing a common design culture across all brands, which nevertheless allows each brand to retain a high degree of creative autonomy.
The successful vehicles created by de Silva include the Alfa 156 (1997) and 147 (2001), the Volkswagen up!, the Polo and the Golf 6 and 7, the Audi R8 and the Audi A5, about which de Silva said that it was “the most beautiful car” he had ever designed.
Walter de Silva received numerous design awards for his work, including the “Design Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany 2010”, the highest official distinction awarded for design in Germany, for the design of the Audi A5.
He received the “Compasso d’Oro” (Golden Compass), one ofthe most prestigious design awards in Italy, in 2011.
An international expert panel described Walter de Silva as the “undisputed main protagonist of Italian design” and awarded him the prize for a career spanning over forty years.
The CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, Matthias Müller, paid tribute to Walter de Silva’s work with these words: “Walter de Silva epitomizes creativity and the Italian sense of beauty and style on the one hand and thoroughness, a systematic approach and discipline on the other.” Acknowledging de Silva’s definitive achievements for Volkswagen, Müller said: “Walter de Silva succeeded in establishing a design culture and methodology across all Group brands that is unique in our industry. At the same time, he was the driving force in preserving a high degree of creative autonomy for the brands and their design departments.”