Nio Hires Designers from JLR and VW Group


Nio, a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, has engaged senior designers from Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen Group to help it expand its product line and penetrate the European market. 


After nearly six years at VW Group’s Seat and another five at Skoda, Joaquin Garcia joins Nio’s Munich design studio as a senior design director. Garcia began his work with Renault and then transferred to Ford after earning a master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in England. He had his own studio for a few years before joining Skoda as design coordinator in 2010 and then moving to Seat/Cupra as head of exterior design in 2015. 

After 21 years with Jaguar Land Rover, Alister Whelan has been promoted to senior design director at the Munich studio. Whelan joins Nio after 21 years at Jaguar Land Rover, where he most recently served as design director, overseeing both interior design and the digital experience. 


“I’m extremely proud to join Kris and the Nio family. Both progressive and human, Nio is a premium brand I’ve genuinely admired for some time, and I look forward to contributing to its success,” says Whelan. 

Both executives started their new jobs on October 1 and report to Kris Tomasson, Nio’s design director. 

“For Nio to attract the caliber, creativity and reputation that both Alister and Joaquin enjoy gives me immense satisfaction at just how far we have come in a very short space of time,” Tomasson said in a statement on Monday. 

Nio said in August that it would launch a mass-market brand to complement its higher-end SUVs. CEO William Li remarked at the launch that the partnership between the two brands would be “like that of Audi-Volkswagen and Lexus-Toyota.” As part of its launch preparations, the brand was putting together a “core team.” Whelan and Garcia were not hired to work on the new brand, according to Nio. 

Whelan and Garcia will be in charge of “leading and nurturing worldwide teams working on the growing variety of programmes for the smart EV brand,” according to Nio. The two European designers were hired after veteran Volvo and Geely designer Andreas Nilsson was hired as studio director of Nio’s Shanghai studio in July. 

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