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As one of only three automotive designers to be awarded with an Honorary Doctorate at the Royal College of Arts, it’s needless to say that Peter Schreyer is one of the automotive world’s most famous and successful designers.

After starting his professional career at Audi in 1978 as a design graduate, he moved on to Volkswagen in 1999. It wasn’t until 2006 that Kia swayed the German born designer to join its ranks. He is most famous for the iconic exterior design of the original Audi TT in 1995.

CarAdvice had the chance to sit down with Mr Schreyer at the 2010 Geneva Motor show to discuss cars and the direction Kia is heading, with respect to automotive design.

One of the key things Mr Schreyer reiterated to me was Kia’s rather neutral image prior to his arrival. Part of his design philosophy at Kia has been to unify the brand’s models with a “family face”, as he calls it.

“In the past, the Kia cars were very neutral. When you saw one on the road, you didn’t really know if it was Korean or Japanese…I think it’s very important that you are able to recognise a Kia at first sight,” Mr Schreyer said.

In addition to designing cars like the Sportage to stand out from the crowd, Mr Schreyer also believes his designs are timeless, saying:

“I feel quite happy about the way the Sportage came out. It’s not fancy and has a timeless design. It looks natural.”

While the design of cars is moving forward in the typical sense, Mr Schreyer worked to bridge the gap between efficient and non-efficient cars with the Sportage. He explained that cars like hybrids and vehicles geared toward extreme fuel efficiency shouldn’t need to look totally different to other cars on the road.

His aim with the Sportage was to give it the rugged looks of an SUV, while also adhering to aerodynamic principles often limited to cars like the Toyota Prius and its other counterparts.

I asked Mr Schreyer if there was room to further evolve the design of a car. If you were to forget about everything you knew about car design to date, what would you change to improve cars as they are today.

“I would love to redefine the way people think of a car today. Although we can go crazy on designs for show cars (removing door handles, etc.), we are limited to engineering standards and safety standards. If the standards didn’t exist, it would be something I would love to do,” Mr Schreyer said.

Mr Schreyer’s Kia designs to date have all been cars built for mass markets. When asked about the possibility of a sports car to express Kia’s emotions, Mr Schreyer said

“You are the fifth person to ask me this question today, but it’s a good one. Although we have nothing down the line, I’d love to do one…it’s your job to create the demand.”

He went on to talk about there being room for further products in the Kia range and ones that involve emotion and take away a purchase based on a rational decision alone. This is certainly similar to the path Hyundai has taken over the past years with cars like the Genesis.

During times that he is not based in Kia’s Frankfurt design studio, Mr Schreyer’s family gets around in a Kia Sorento and Kia Soul. He says that could change once the Kia Megentis is released at this year’s New York Motor Show, so we will certainly be keeping an eye out for it.

Peter Schreyer has been a design revolution for the Kia brand. His influence is sure to propel the Korean manufacturer well into the future and from all counts it is being lead with positive praise.

  • Steve-Poyza

    He is very smart and is great at his job. I love how all Kia’s now have a family look. And all of their new cars look so good!

  • http://CarAdvice The Salesman

    Ha ha. I wasn’t going to post up until i read the anti – spam word…..TOYOTA!
    I have worked for Kia now for 12 years. I can not explain just how different it is to sell a Kia now.
    The clients I see today are a completely different breed to what I am used to. Kia is certainly attracting a new audience.

  • Fernando

    I think Kia used to make one of the ugliest and most boring looking car along with Toyota.Surely Kia is lucky to have him. He upgraded Kia into a different league.

  • ohreally

    the Kia Coup is a good looking car, with a fantastic rear end. Although other engine options are needed

  • Hung Low

    Lucky KIA got him on board instead of Chris Bangle!
    It is amazing how a chief designer can make it or break it for a car company! ahem……… Subaru!!!

  • Shane


  • jinsei

    He is an amazing designer and I really thank him for all the models that he has designed so far: the Cerato, Soul, Sorento, Cadenza, Sportage and the upcoming Magentis!

    Kia have made a very smart decision to bring him away from VAG.

  • Benron

    He is a good designer, but the guy that replaced him at VW, Italian Walter De’Silva is a demi-God

  • Benjie

    Great interview guys. Goes to show that Kia is committed to actually improving the design of their cars.

    I wasn’t a bit fan of the original TT, but Schreyer has done some great work on the Sportage. It’s a car I’d actually want to buy now, opposed to the old one.

  • Hung Low

    Hung Low says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm
    Lucky KIA got him on board instead of Chris Bangle!
    It is amazing how a chief designer can make it or break it for a car company! ahem……… Subaru!!!

    Why was that awaiting moderation?

  • Likmyballs

    Ahhh so thats how looser companies sell cars these days….Use Germans to make em look good.

    • Benjie

      Are you suggesting that Kia is promiscuous? Lucky they don’t have “looser”s like you managing their affairs 😉

    • okies

      Please… Think… why Peter Schreyer moved to Kia.
      Why not Toyota or Honda. Is he idiot ?
      Because he knows Kia’s future potential.
      That’s why he is sooooo smart.
      Kia will be next Audi in the future. Just wait and see.

      • Andronicus

        I think he moved there because they will give him the freedom to do what he wants…… and the galactic sized pay cheque.

        • okies

          So… seems like it IS win-win deal.
          I wouldn’t expect more.
          Congrats! Peter and Kia.

        • GoHyundai

          yea i think you got it right on the spot,
          he’ll be able to create what he wants from scratch etc at kia,
          rather than follow a tradition audi already had from history, etc,
          so true!

  • Andronicus

    He has definatly made it harder to maintain my brand snobbery when he designs such attractive forward thinking cars. We are in 2010, why do cars still look as bland as the corollas and tiidas of the world?

  • GoHyundai

    lol…i love kia’s current lineup of designs with the family-look like bmw and merc has, with hyundai starting on the family look thing,

    but that car in the photo…is just really ugly, i love the koup design,

  • Lot6

    Kia’s are really starting to look smart these days, dare say even better looking than sister company hyundai, lets hope the old fugly looking days arfe over.Mind you the company is still not smelling of roses, the V6 Carnival issue is still buring lots and lots of unfortunate owners…

    PeterS left as it was a bit of a protest that they gave the TopJob to Italian Walter De’Silva instead of him, VW Group had no choice, Walter is superior in every way AND he brought over all the future plans and knowledge what the Italians will be doing in the next few years, very smart move VW!

    Why does the stand show 7 [seven] year warranty for Kia yet here we only get 5 [five]

    Buy a Mitsubishi [superior Japanese] and you get a massive 10 year powertrain warranty which is a decade which is amazingly long no matter how you measure it!

    The new Sportage looks very shmick, well sell on looks as long as they dont go silly with the price as they have with the ix35, Sould and Koup, all over the odds, all had or will have prices slashed

  • steve

    great article!