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Kia to score more stand-alone models

Designs on the future: Kia president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer said that the future styling of both Kia and Hyundai will be further developed and refined.

Hyundai group design head flags differentiation between Korean brands

11 Mar 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in GENEVA

KIA president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, has flagged greater differentiation between Kia and Hyundai vehicles that goes beyond surface styling.

Speaking to the Australian media at last week’s Geneva motor show, the man who now also is in charge of Hyundai design believes that the two brands will remain on the same design course they are currently on, but with further developments and refinements to more clearly communicate what each stands for.

“We need to find a way of differentiating Hyundai and Kia… and not just by styling,” Mr Schreyer said.

“Kia needs to stretch to make more emotional cars. It’s what you have all been asking for anyway, isn’t it.”

Mr Schreyer added that the two marques will always share mechanical hardware “… because it makes sense to do so”, but there is scope for unique models within each marque to be further developed as sub-brands in the future.

“There are cars out there that are a kind of sub-brand, like the Golf for Volkswagen, which is a brand in itself, (and it is the same with) Genesis for Hyundai and the Soul for Kia,” he said.

But the ex-Audi stylist who has helped turn Kia’s designs around since 2006, ruled out any stand-alone luxury brand developments for either company in the Lexus/Infiniti/Acura mould, for the near future at least.

“In one way to create a new brand could be a charming idea,” Mr Schreyer admitted.

“But on the other hand, if those cars that would be in that segment were to be called Hyundais it would make the brand stronger.

“If you separate the cars too much and they are not recognisable, and then you have to spend billions in advertising and making that brand.

“If you look at Lexus it took over 20 years for them to get where they are, but at the same time image-wise it did not pull Toyota up at all because it is a Lexus.

“So this is why in our case it is best not to do it.” Asked how he would describe Kia and Hyundai’s styling against each other right now, Mr Schreyer describes the former’s as a snowflake compared to the latter’s raindrop.

“Kia has created an identity and extended our product range with nice concept cars where one might see the light of day,” he said.

“We have established a very distinctive body language while Hyundai has done some spectacular designs that have been very successful.

“I would say the differences are like that of the snow crystal and raindrop, with Kia being the snow crystal.

“I want to keep this direction, even if I have to dive deeper into Hyundai and get to know the people and the brand better. I need to focus on that.”

Nevertheless, Mr Schreyer added that some toning down of Hyundai’s styling – without abandoning all the ‘hard work’ that has already been done – would probably be a necessity.

“Hyundai’s design has been quite daring and spectacular. They’ve created their own direction that did not look like it has been copied from somebody else,” he said.

“But I think some of Hyundai’s design has been exaggerated, and a little bit over the top, and it needs to be refined – but I would not make a 180-degree turn and say ‘no, you do something completely different now’.

“There is now a nice difference between the way Hyundai and Kia are perceived.

“The challenging thing is also to separate the two as much as I can. But for me the difficulty is finding a stronger direction for both (brands).

“I have to work on that intensively and have discussions on how to crystallise how we can make Hyundai’s direction even more defined and stronger.

“Kia is more youthful, more of the challenger, fresher and somehow still perceived as a new brand, while Hyundai is more about elegance – and without the negative connotation – more on the classic side.

“But it takes time… the difficult thing is that both have a similar product range and both have a very short history. I think we still need some time to work on that.

“There is a difference. You can see the difference now. There is a substance there on both sides, and we can’t throw everything that we’ve previously worked on away.”

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