McLaren Automotive has appointed Tobias Suhlmann as its new Chief Design Officer, effective from September 2023. Suhlmann has a successful career in automotive design spanning over two decades, having worked for several renowned luxury brands such as Bentley, Bugatti, and Aston Martin.
The appointment marks a return to McLaren for Suhlmann, who was previously the Chief Designer for Special Projects. In that role, he oversaw the design of the McLaren Solus GT single-seat hypercar, which was based on a video game concept.
Gallery: McLaren Solus
As the new Chief Design Officer, Suhlmann will be based in Surrey, where he will be responsible for leading a design team that handles every aspect of brand design. This will include future concepts, exterior and interior styling, colour and materials, and personalisation of vehicles for customers. His role will also involve working closely with customers to create bespoke designs for their vehicles, which will then be hand-built in the adjacent McLaren Production Centre.
Suhlmann began his career in automotive design in 2005, after graduating with a diploma from Pforzheim University. He worked at Volkswagen before moving on to become Head of Exterior Design at Bugatti and then at Aston Martin. He subsequently joined McLaren as the Chief Designer for Special Projects from October 2020 to September 2021, before becoming Bentley’s Director of Design in his last role before returning to McLaren.
In his new role, Suhlmann will report directly to Michael Leiters, the Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Automotive.
"We are delighted to welcome Tobias to the McLaren team. He is a highly experienced automotive designer with an existing understanding of McLaren having previously worked on our ground-breaking Solus GT project. Tobias will play a leading role in developing McLaren’s new design language across our developing product portfolio as part of our Future of Performance business strategy," said Leiters.
McLaren has been hiring back its previous executives. Before Suhlmann, Charles Sanderson was hired by the automaker as Chief Technical Officer. Sanderson was McLaren's head of software development before he left for Rivian in 2018.