The Volkswagen Group’s luxury British brand Bentley today lost its head of design, Stefan Sielaff, just as it commits to switching from its big-engined heavyweight traditions to become a pure battery-electric company.

Confirmed by both Bentley and Volkswagen today, Sielaff is likely to head to China’s Geely, whose brands include Volvo, Lotus, Polestar, Lynk & Co and Malaysia’s Proton.

Sielaff’s departure also puts a hole in Volkswagen’s own plans, with the Bavarian designer also being responsible for the Group’s interior design strategy.

A former Audi intern, Seilaff, 59, has also spent time as the chief designer of Audi and had a three-year stint at Mercedes-Benz from 2003.

German press has reported that Seilaff will take over the role of the retiring Peter Horbury at Geely, which began as the design head of Volvo before becoming the go-to design guru for the burgeoning group.

“Mr Seilaff has left his position to pursue other career opportunities outside Bentley and the Volkswagen Group,” a Bentley spokesperson said today.

No successor has been named, with Bentley’s development boss Matthias Rabe handling the role temporarily after Seilaff’s five-year stint.

Known for his interior designs and approach to materials, Seilaff studied at the Royal College of Art in London and is regarded as responsible for the Audi quattro Spyder concept from 1991 and the original A7 luxury car.

He wouldn’t be the first Bentley design head to jump ship for greener pastures, with his predecessor, Luc Donckerwolke, moving on to become Hyundai Motor’s chief creative officer after initially joining its luxury brand, Genesis.