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The employee magazine
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Models and Technology

When the design becomes reality

Fernando Hillman and Marco Giumentaro both came to Wolfsburg nine years ago. Even when they were young, their passion was drawing cars. Now they have designed the new T-Roc, and in so doing achieved a milestone. Here they explain to inside why they feel like the winners of a reality television show.

For nine years, Fernando Hillman was unable to explain to his ­mother what he actually did for a living. Over there in Germany. In Wolfsburg. At Volkswagen. Nine years ago Hillman came to Germany from Argentina. Volkswagen was looking for ­designers, and Hillman had studied ­industrial design, but drawing cars was his passion. He applied a job, and in order to interview traveled to Europe for the first time in his life. He stayed just 26 hours. Two months later he was informed that he got the job. And now – nine years later – he can finally tell his family back in Argentina what he does for a living. With photographs of the new T-Roc.

Hillman is the interior designer of the new compact SUV, which Volkswagen has added to the Golf series. The compact SUV segment is booming, and is expected to double in the next ten years.

Marco Giumentaro is Hillman’s colleague, the exterior designer of the T-Roc. Giumentaro is four years younger than Hillman. Designing cars was his hobby too, and he also came to Wolfsburg nine years ago. From Italy. Where car design has a long and storied tradition, unlike in Argentina. After completing his industrial design degree, Giumentaro got his master’s in car design in Turin.

» We invested a great deal of time and passion. «

“My family and friends think that I draw cars all day,” Giumentaro tells us during the photo shoot with the new T-Roc, “but drawing is only the first step of a long process. You have to have a great deal of technical knowledge to actually turn a drawing into reality.” Giumentaro, now 34 years old, started working at Volkswagen in 2008. Since then he has helped work on the concept car for the e-up!, the T-Roc, and the Tiguan. Now, at the appointment with the media, he is standing in front of the finished T-Roc series model for the first time. Seeing it, feeling it, touching the lines he drew.

The T-Roc is a compact SUV, a crossover. It combines an SUV with a hatchback, recognizable from the silhouette, bridging the gap between a sedan and an SUV with a chrome strip along the roof. The T-Roc is crisp and expressive outside, functional on the inside. The front with the radiator grille is very wide, integrating dual headlights and a separate light signature.

Fernando­ Hillman

The 38-year-old Argentine came to Volkswagen in 2009. He created the T-Roc’s interior design

Mr. Hillman, please complete these sentences

What I especially like about the new T-Roc is ... the relationship between the interior and exterior design languages.

My favorite experience with the new T-Roc
was ...
when I stood in front of the finished car for the first time and saw the fruits of our labor.

My wish for the new T-Roc is ... that customers are as enthusiastic about it as we are – the employees who developed it.

The two designers worked on the T-Roc for almost two years. However, they didn’t see the car again for nearly the same length of time following what’s called the design freeze, after which changes to the design are no longer possible. Now their vision is before them. “It’s a very emotional moment, to see the car for the first time. You have grown together with the car and the project,” says Giumentaro.

“We invested a great deal of time and passion. Now we feel that we have created something,” says a beaming Hillman. ­Chairman of the Volkswagen Brand Herbert Diess called the T-Roc a “milestone in our SUV initiative,” adding that “it sets a new standard in the booming SUV segment.”

Hillman and Giumentaro are therefore a bit like the winners of a reality television show. The first round: everyone can get on the stage and sing. In the case of the T-Roc, contenders submitted about 40 design ideas to the jury. Second round: the re-call. The jury has decided on the direction of the design and requests sketches from some of the candidates. In the final round there are no motto shows, but rather models of the vehicle, and in the end there is one winner for the interior and another for the exterior.

The participants had one advantage with this competition: they didn’t have to ­follow any specifications from older models of the T-Roc. The sheet of paper was completely blank. “It’s easier to develop something completely new. That gives us more freedom,” says Giumentaro. “From the first moment it was clear that the car had to be young, stylish, and unique.”

“The T-Roc was like a playground for us,” Giumentaro adds. “I have to find the line that I like. I had a clear picture in my mind about what the T-Roc needed. The car’s design had to be new, logical, and unexpected. All of those elements are very well-balanced in the T-Roc.”

The “younger, funky brother of the Tiguan” is how Giumentaro describes the T-Roc. “It is the more emotional car,” he says, and this sounds completely logical when a southern Italian and a South American design a car. The design is unmistakably Volkswagen, but also so progressive and unique that it sticks in your mind immediately as “T-Roc.”

» It was clear that the car had to be young, stylish, and unique. «

Marco Giumentaro

The 34-year-old Italian has been at Volkswagen since 2009. Giumentaro is responsible for the T-Roc’s exterior design.

Mr. Giumentaro, please complete these sentences

What I especially like about the new T-Roc is ... the chrome strip that extends the entire length of the roof line from the A column to the distinctive C column.

My favorite experience with the new T-Roc was, ... when I saw the finished car live for the first time.

My wish for the new T-Roc is ... that it makes its segment rock.

At the world premiere in Italy in mid-August, Herbert Diess called the T-Roc a milestone in Volkswagen’s SUV initiative.

Giumentaro paid a visit to Lake Como in his home country for the world premiere of the T-Roc. “I love the car,” he says. The two designers want to read as few reviews of the new car as possible. “Of course we hope that people like the car,” says Hillman. But he knows that in the end it’s the same as with soccer coaches – everyone else knows better. Only one thing is ­certain: There’s a family in Córdoba who can finally see what their son does in Germany. And they will be mighty proud.