Imagine your senior year in college. Did any of your final projects merit global attention, countless strategy meetings and even full-scale models?
Your ideas, and how you expressed them, drawing attention from one of the largest and most-influential carmakers in the world?
We’d bet not.
But then, you are not the design whiz that is Eljesah “Eli” Shala, and you did not create the 2020 VW GT Ge “Ground Effect” design study.
The start of a exceptionally promising career for Eli began long ago, but is picking up momentum rapidly in 2016. All thanks to the extreme sportiness + eco principles of this EV concept study.
More about Eli and his career plans toward the end of this piece. First, let’s dive in to the technical and design analysis. Why is this car so much more exciting than VW’s own super-GTI concepts, and perhaps roadmap to the next generation of Volkswagen Group design language. Across just one, and perhaps all dozen of the group’s brands worldwide.
TECH BRIEF – ‘2020’ Volkswagen GT Ge by Eli Shala
Eli’s VW GT Ge started life on the premise of a Golf-length vehicle that is a full EV with AWD. Seating for two and performance benchmarked against today’s Porsche 911 Turbo, but in a VW-branded sports coupe? Yes, that is the general idea of the vehicle: fast, sexy, premium and green.
We see in the sketch transparencies with the GT Ge over a Golf VII how the driver/powertrain package adapts for this new super-EV mission. The driver sits far lower and more reclined, of course, to account for a near foot lopped off the total height.
The aerodynamic solutions are some of the car’s most innovative elements: feeding air to the battery-cooling systems while also employing a bi-plane double wing principle. The same way a bi-plane’s double layer of wings lets them generate tremendous lift at low speeds is flipped for the GT Ge “Ground Effect.” A smooth upper wing is the tophat of the car, while the carved-out floorplan and air ductwork in the floor of the GT Ge are the lower wing.
Instead of pulling a plane into the sky, however, the Shala GT Ge concept uses the air to press all four wheels to the ground.
DESIGN ANALYSIS – NOSE
All this is fairly conventional, so far, is it not?
The real genius of this concept is how the ideas of VW’s broad central intake, Golf-style angles for the doors and C-pillars are adapted for their new eco-exotic mission.
Eli makes a real statement in the nose. A sharp leading edge of the hood extends out beyond the main grille — creating a nice visual contrast between the painted upper hood and the grey ventwork of the actual grille face.
This main grille element is actually just more aero planes: directing air downward and into the underbody tunnels on a variable basis — altering its intake volumes based on dynamic needs, cooling demands and overall speeds/driving modes.
A lower chin spoiler also offers active-aero benefits: extending deeper toward the ground to pull in more clean, cool air when the batteries or electric motors need to shed heat.
The latest VW vision of C-shaped LEDs are nicely evolved here, embellishing the sunken fenders versus the long-hood, shark-nosed look of the concept. It is all very clean, elegant and on-brand for VW. Yet at the same time, better than VW has achieved until now on its concepts. The 3D elements, layered surfacing and dark/light interplay are all very desirable.
DESIGN ANALYSIS – PROFILE
In profile, we have the second-most radical change versus any Golf or even Vision Gran Turismo VW concept. Low, cab-backward and dominated by the clamshell rear end — the VW GT Ge is quite a slinky supercar when viewed from the side.
A solid black glasshouse extends cleanly like a visor from the slim windshield into the chopped side windows. This dark-tinted glass fades into a full-height rear side intake, shadowed and dark versus the silver body color of the car. How does the door open? Good question! The lack of shutlines is achieved by gullwing doors opening up the entire upper sides of the car for entry/exit or trunk loading.
A slight cut in the pure bodyside comes from the swage line — a pinch emerging from the front axle and flying up the side of the car in a clean, spikey break in the smooth surfaces.
Below the mid-line of the doors, more negative space is a beautiful contrast in shadowy black. From solid painted body behind the front wheels, the sill stays silver only at the lower bottom edge. The lower doors sweep into a dark air channel — shooting air through the bodywork to minimize drag and deliver downforce.
The side benefit? This dark intake runs all down the door area, up into the side intake, and flicks forward visually — sending the eye into the glasshouse in a clean, artful movement.
DESIGN ANALYSIS – TAIL
The swirl of eyes following the intake lines, dark/light interplay and sexy proportions are all greatly enhanced by this stunning rear end. A giant helmet-like look for this “roof/trunk” region might look heavy in other executions. Here, its solid, yet flowing and organic, surfacing feels clean and purposeful. The solid upper tail with no back glass is broken up in the middle by a central spine of LED brake light and rear cameras. It is clean and relaxed, yet clearly quite potent and powerful in appearance.
The real action for the tail actually starts in the free-standing look of the rear fender-ends. These are sharp, extended tail fins behind the back wheels, opening a huge air outlet to expel hot air from the brakes/motors/radiators of the BEV. Well inside this area, the actual rear bumper is a slim and ultra-rounded swirl of painted element — housing slimline LED brake lights and opening up a huge diffuser zone below the license-plate mount of a normal car.
Notably, you can see how the bumper strike face stands so proud of the actual fenders and clamshell trunk canopy. This is a hard look to make real in production, but is quite impactful at lightening the visual weight of the machine, adding purpose to its shape, and opening aero channel outlets — as a purposeful part of the design.
This lower tail is all about extreme aero. Venturi spoilers, a dynamically-moving air brake / outlet and vertical red LEDs complete the functionality of the tail.
Extending the rear CHMSL (center stop lamp) down the full height of the car is dramatic, and effective. At night, the vertical blade of light will be an unfortgettable signature for the machine on the highways and autobahns of the world.
In summary, the most delicious parts of Eli Shala’s VW GT Ge concept are how he expresses existing design themes, brings in new aero principles, and grounds it all in solid technical theory.
Eli Shala completed this project as his Bachelor’s thesis (final project) just recently for Braunschweig University of Art (HBK).
The industrial and transport design specialities of this school make it a key feeder school for European design studios of all car brands. VW’s design center in Wolfsburg sponsored and guided the elite design group through the months-long ideation, design and execution phases of this GT Ge concept from Shala.
ELI SHALA – Future Star Designer
VW clearly loves the theory and execution of the GT Ge concept.
That is always a good sign that this concept is still being studied extensively, and its ideas put into the mix for next-gen EV Bentleys, Bugattis, Porsches, Scanias….. etc.
We’re eager to see what Eli dreams up next, and hope to see his sharp/smooth design aesthetic on the roads — the sooner the better!
TALENT FOR HIRE!
What is next for Shala, whose VW career path was interrupted by the Wolfsburg juggernaut’s hiring freeze?
A Master’s degree, first of all! Eli is heading back to Pforzheim University to refine his skills even further. At the same time, he is also actively seeking out a new designer position – a place where he can bring his design visions to real life.
Check out Eli’s portfolio page and LinkedIn profile for more details, to follow his progress, and contact him with recruiting opportunities.
2020 Volkswagen GT Ge by Eli Shala