Function AND Form - BMW Motorrad Head of Design Ola Stenegard Exclusive Interview (Page 2)

2016 BMW R nineT Scrambler 1 photo
Photo: Florin Tibu
Continued from Page 1 of "Function AND Form - BMW Motorrad Head of Design Ola Stenegard Exclusive Interview"ae: Who is your archenemy in the design business?
OS: There are a lot of good designers out there, a lot of good guys in the business. Also, a lot of new, young guys who are delivering great results, or people like the fellows at Kiska. Still, what they do in a company doesn't always reflect how good they are in reality, so it's hard to say.

ae: Who is the boldest manufacturer in terms of design?
OS: I just have to put on my corporate hat and look around... but it's impossible to say who is the best, so to speak. The design must fit the brand, first of all, so comparing apples to oranges is not going to cut it.

It's easy to speak about what we do, because we know exactly how we stand. It becomes harder to comment on the others, because you can never know all there is to be known about what they do.

ae: What's your opinion on the new Ducati XDiavel? People are already taking sides, some claiming that Ducati should not show their teeth at the cruisers, while others simply say that the new machine is way too much for Borgo Panigale.
OS: Really? Is the XDiavel getting so much attention already? Great, even if this is a segment where we don't play. Powercruisers are niche bikes, and for me it's hard to make a call.

ae: Do you like it or not?
OS: I think it is a huge improvement over the initial model, from a powercuiser's standpoint.

ae: The new Scrambler expands the R nineT family, seemingly following the trend of neo-retro trend in the industry. Is BMW planning to grow the ranks of their neoclassic-look machines?
OS: Absolutely! It's a strong message; we are launching a new "world," the Heritage line. We have adventure bikes, touring bikes, roadsters, urban mobility, sports, and now, Heritage.

The Heritage world will be populated with models that are connected to the BMW Motorrad history. The R nineT was the first, followed by the Scrambler, and there are going to be more models added to the family, we are very serious about it. I am super-excited about it!

I grew up with custom bikes, and I still spend a lot of time in my garage, so thinking back to the moment when I first introduced the guys in the company to the neo-retro project feels awesome.

I told them that I believed there was space for such a bike in their line-up and they thought I was crazy. Then two more guys joined the idea, and all of a sudden, things were no longer looking that insane. The response we got from the market was amazing, the sales were phenomenal, and people loved us bringing a bike so connected to the history.

We are going to stay with this idea, it's a big commitment, and through this, my personal life gets entwined with the company at a new, higher level.

ae: Ducati reveals the smaller version of their Scrambler at EICMA today. Even though I know you can't confirm or deny this, I just can't shake this idea out of my head: a smaller BMW Scrambler with a 310 engine...
OS: It's a good platform, hahaha, this is all I can say!

[QUOTE]It's hard to speak about full-size BMW electric motorcycles until this industry segment takes off properly[/QUOTE]

ae: When it comes to electric vehicles, BMW only has the C evolution scooter. Any other electric plans or ideas?
OS: The scooters are working great as products, and the electric one is just the same. For a commuter, going electric makes a lot of sense, as the performance is coherent with what the buyer expects, but for a proper motorcycle, things are still hard to predict.

There are things we are already working on, like the eRR, but we really need electric motorcycles to take off first. We are keeping a close eye on what brands like Zero or the former bike division of Brammo are doing, but it's not a business case for us right now.

On the other hand, for the scooters things are different. The C evolution is nice to ride, has great acceleration and sports a good balance of performance and range.

ae: What lies ahead for BMW Motorrad? Will there be major changes?
OS: For us, the most important thing is to be able to focus on each "world." We need a DNA strand that flows through all our models, making them proper BMW bikes or scooters, but for each segment we need to obey the rules.

The asymmetric headlights were invented on the GS, and they will remain on the GS, the roadsters will retain their cool urban aggressiveness, while supersport bikes will still look best on the track. The headlight is the piece of DNA that connects them, but you won't see it in the Heritage machines or in the touring bikes.

It doesn't fit, it doesn't belong there. Those models have other things connecting them with the authentic BMW styling. Putting things in fewer words, BMW will keep refining the models, accentuating their specific character, this looks like the future from a design point of view.

ae: Finally, do you regret anything, as a designer?
OS: No, because I know exactly what goes into a bike, and I know the hardship and the efforts that are needed. I am not the kind of guy to live with regret, because, as my boss (Edgar Heinrich, red.), we know that even if we make the best decisions, design-wise, at a point, we are not alone.

We always do our best, but there is business to be done, and sometimes things change. Still, when I turn out a bike, I KNOW that bike is the best I could deliver, and I am happy with it. I'm not the guy to regret. And it sucks to regret. NO regrets!

I just have to add that we kept on talking after the official interview was over, and Ola is definitely not the stiff corporate guy. How often does one end a corporate interview with discussions about East-European folk metal, the Swedish metal scene, or digging out old viking treasures in Gotland?

PS: Looks like I have to wait for another occasion to take a selfie with Ola, as I forgot this aspect this time...
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