Renowned and often controversial designer Christopher E. Bangle is leaving BMW AG after nearly 17 years at the helm to “pursue his own design-related endeavors beyond the auto industry.”

Replacing him is Adrian van Hooydonk, 44, considered Bangle’s right-hand man throughout his tenure at BMW. Hooydonk, credited with strongly influencing the latest 6- and 7-Series models, as well as the Z9 Concept Car, takes over immediately and will oversee design for BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini.

Hooydonk joined BMW in 1992, the same year Bangle came aboard as the auto maker’s top designer. He spent time at the Designworks USA studio in Newbury Park, CA, before returning to Munich in 2004 as head of BMW Group design.

Bangle, 52, had stints at Adam Opel GmbH and Fiat Automobiles SpA before joining BMW. His edgy designs, most noted for the bustle-back rear end on the 7-Series (referred to by enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike as the Bangle-butt) and shark-like lines of the Z4 roadster, transformed BMW styling in the mid-1990s.

Not all of Bangle’s moves were well received, but Hooydonk defended the auto maker’s styling direction during a 2004 tour of the Designworks USA studio.

“What we want in our cars is emotion, and it would be beautiful if we could control people’s emotions, but we cannot,” he said. “When you believe that as a company what you want is an emotional reaction, you have to be prepared that some of those reactions will be negative.

“There are plenty of car companies out there that talk about emotion, but what they mean is they only want positive (responses), and they will go out of their way to make people say (positive things). You can’t do that. You have to take risks.”

In addition to his impact on vehicle styling, BMW credits Bangle for making Designworks USA “what it is today: a global design agency in North America, Munich and Singapore for leading international brands and companies in a wide variety of industries.”

Bangle “has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group’s brands,” says Klaus Draeger, board member in charge of development. “His contribution to the company’s success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear and aesthetic route into the future.”

Hooydonk says he is “extremely excited to take on this new responsibility. I have no doubt there are challenges ahead, but BMW’s depth in engineering and the passion of its talented design team are as strong as ever.”