The head of design for Korean brands Kia and Hyundai says there’s room for both brands to grow in different design directions and remain unique despite their close bond.

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Speaking to the Australian media at the New York auto show, Hyundai and Kia’s chief designer, Peter Schreyer, said the task of keeping the two brand’s characters unique is not a big challenge.

“First of all I think that the two companies are quite different,” Schreyer said.

“If you did not know they were brother and sister companies, nobody would even talk about the similarities anyway.”

While Hyundai and Kia share everything from platforms, engines, transmission and technology, the look has been kept separate to differentiate the brands in market.

“I think its important for both companies to stay what they are and what they stand for. I think Kia has a very strong direction, its own character and Hyundai is a bit more vivid, playful maybe and a bit more spectacular.”

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Kia’s designs have changed substantially since the former Audi designer took over in 2006. Since then the brand has won plenty of design awards, enough to see parent company Hyundai also put the German in charge of their design. He seems reluctant to make substantial changes.

“I think Hyundai has made some real spectacular designs and they made a name by doing that. I don’t want to change this in the opposite [direction]. I think what should be done is there is to make it a bit more controlled and mature it a bit but I think that there’s still enough space for the two to be different.”

While in the past the two brands have kept their design teams separate, Schreyer hopes communication will help both brands coexist more cohesively.

“At the moment, we have a lot of talks between the two teams, which wasn’t so much the case in the past to really try and define the two brands more, so that each of the two teams really know what they are doing.”

Do you prefer Kia or Hyundai’s design language?