Maserati’s head of design Klaus Busse on electrification, his design process and the role of the sports car in society

By Chua Joel 29 September, 2023
klaus busse maserati

At Maserati, Klaus Busse creates eye-catching designs that capture the emotions like art sculptures

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Klaus Busse is not a soothsayer. Despite his foolproof pedigree—previously at Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Jeep and Alfa Romeo, then now at Maserati as head of design—he’s still an artist at heart, obsessed with the perfection of his craft. He’ll wax lyrical about the radical design language of the iconic Maserati Bora, and regale you about the romanticism of the Maserati 3200GT.

klaus busse maserati
Klaus Busse, head of design at Maserati. Photo by Maserati

“What’s the future of car design? I can’t tell you that. Technology has opened doors to experiment with new forms of proportion, connectivity and artificial intelligence that will push the limits of our creativity,” he says, a twinkle in his eye. In this interview with Robb Report Singapore, Busse delves into electrification, his creative process at Maserati, and the role of the sports car in modern society.

As the industry shifts towards electrification, how will Maserati’s design philosophy change?

Innovation is at the core of everything we do. If you look at our current range (like the new Maserati GranTurismo, MC20 and Grecale), they’re all timeless, rolling sculptures, designed with minimal extraneous embellishments. One of the great things about going electric is that we can further purify a car’s silhouette. Rather than following the crowd by implementing a skateboard chassis with batteries on the bottom and seats on top, we’ve arranged the battery pack in a ‘T-bone’ shape at the car’s centre. That means we can keep the seats low, and the battery doesn’t push ‘outside’ on the track. In doing so, we’ve achieved the perfect packaging and weight distribution for an incredible driving experience. I’d go so far as to say that it’s equally—if not more—exhilarating as driving with a combustion engine.

maserati mcextrema
The new Maserati MCXtrema. Photo by Maserati

Can you share more about your creative process at Maserati?

I’m not a one-man show. Together with my team, I create a clear, strategic understanding on what we’re try to accomplish at Maserati: What does the brand stand for? What’s the role of a sports car or SUV in society? Once we’ve come to a mutual consensus on what we’re about and where we want to go, the design process becomes extremely efficient. Take the recent Maserati MCXtrema, for example. The car was designed in eight weeks because we knew exactly what we wanted and how it could be used to explore a certain aspect of the brand.

On that note, what is the role of the sports car in society?

It’s a tool for rewarding yourself, especially when it takes you to beautiful places like a lake or the mountains. On the track, it provides an intensely meditative experience because you have to focus on what’s ahead and block out everything else. Contrary to what others might think, I don’t believe the role of a sports car is to parade or show off.

If you could distil it to its essence, what is Maserati’s identity?

Gran turismo and Italian luxury. When you think about Maserati, being stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work doesn’t come to mind. Instead, you envision yourself driving on a wonderful road, perhaps on a racetrack or a scenic ocean drive. It’s a deeply stirring, emotional experience.

maserati granturismo
The new Maserati GranTurismo. Photo by Maserati

Describe what it feels like to be behind the wheel of a Maserati GranTurismo.

At the switch of a button or a step on the pedal, you can turn a gorgeous machine into an extremely dynamic one. One moment you’re in comfort mode, and the next you’re in a ferociously competitive vehicle. That’s what a Maserati GranTurismo is about—combining seamless performance with absolute comfort.

What still excites you as a designer?

When people come up to me and say, “How beautiful! One day, I will drive a car like that.” At Maserati, we’re not just designing objects, but creating dreams. Some cars take you from one place to another; others might strive for perfection at the expense of emotion—but a car that allows you to dream, now that’s something else entirely.