The new president of design at Hyundai, Peter Schreyer, is planning to evolve the Korean giant’s design rather than revolutionise it, in the same way he did with Kia.
“Of course I need to spend a lot of time on Hyundai because Kia I know very well and have been with for several years now. I think I need to put quite a lot of focus on Hyundai in the near future.”
The Korean sister brands, Kia and Hyundai, have many models that are based on the same platform and technology, but are distinguished by their design and execution, with Hyundai taking a generally more conservative approach than its smaller sibling. Will this change with Schreyer in charge?
“I think that Hyundai has made some bold moves in design and creating lot of attention and being successful. So I’m not planning to throw that away and do something completely different. I think it needs to be bold, and there are lots of cars in progress.”
It’s unlikely, though, that any change Schreyer makes will be seen in the near future. The design of the next-generation Hyundai Genesis for example, has already been locked in, as has a number of other products which are yet to come to fruition. It’s far more likely to be years before the Schreyer influence filters through to Hyundai cars.
“I think we need to focus on the direction and you need to give me a bit of time as well.”
Furthermore, Schreyer said he is likely to continue on with Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design philosophy for the time being, which means any changes are likely to be evolutionary at best.
It will certainly be a challenging task to have the same chief designer for two separate brands that already share so much in terms of engineering and technology, but Schreyer seems unfazed.
“I have a job now that concerns both [brands] and I look at both from a slightly different perspective.”
As Schreyer's work with Kia has arguably set the benchmark for automotive design in the segment, there’s no doubt that the pressure to produce even more attractive cars for both Kia and Hyundai has never been so high. The expectation now from customers and the industry remains at unprecedented levels, particularly for two brands that less than a decade ago were simply not on the map for design direction.