The man that has contributed greatly to Kia’s turnaround believes having the freedom to start the company’s design revolution was the key ingredient its current success.
Speaking with the media at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, Kia’s global head of design, Peter Schreyer, emphasised that car design is inherently a compromise but having the freedom and trust of the organisation has been instrumental in creating today’s Kia models.
“It is the case that everybody is influencing everybody else. So you can also find some things that we are doing on other cars now,” Schreyer said.
Schreyer, who was largely responsible for the design of the original Audi TT and the Volkswagen New Beetle, is only the third automotive designer to receive an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London (the other two being Sergio Pininfarina and Giorgetto Giugiaro).
Having started at Kia in 2008, his four years in charge have so far resulted in the Korean giant changing its entire design philosophy and producing cars that are instantly recognisable as part of the Kia family.
Asked if his well-publicised profile at Kia and the continuing expectation of designing great looking cars is creating pressure, Schreyer said he continues to focus on the excitement of design rather than the pressure.
“Of course there is a kind of [pressure]… you have a very high responsibility as a designer because the ups and downs of the company depends a lot on what we are doing.
“But if you have that in mind all the time while you’re working, it slows you down and I think it’s important to have this kind of excitement in yourself to try this and that.”
Schreyer acknowledged that his design team are given a great deal of freedom at Kia.
“They gave me a lot of freedom, they stand behind it and they are proud of what is happening. From the beginning, this is something I really appreciate that they give me this kind of trust. That is great.”
“The atmosphere is very positive at the moment, the cars have travelled all over the world, almost like a road tour. The response is very positive. I would be the happiest man if we get the two through. I don’t give up.”
Kia’s global design team, which is based in Frankfurt, California and Seoul, numbers around 200-250 employees, who are tasked with creating the 51 new models currently in the pipeline. Schreyer believes the freedom given to his design team comes through the product.
“I think our cars have a soul somehow and they have an authenticity. You can feel that there is a team and that there is people behind it, that it’s not just a code machine somehow.”
Kia continues to grow both globally and locally. So far this year, Kia Australia’s sales have grown by around 23 per cent.