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Controversial design is crucial, says Peter Schreyer

Out there: Concept cars such as Kia’s Provo help set the mould for future models, says designer Peter Schreyer.

Kia and Hyundai design boss Peter Schreyer praises ex-BMW designer Chris Bangle

Kia logo12 Sep 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO in Frankfurt

MODERN safety regulations are making car design boring, and the sheer number of models on the market is promoting ubiquity, according to influential Hyundai and Kia chief design officer Peter Schreyer.

Speaking with GoAuto at this week’s Frankfurt motor show, where Kia was displaying the latest in a long line of outrageous concept vehicles, Mr Schreyer highlighted the challenge of standing out from the pack, and of creating modern road cars with unique lines.

The discussion was prompted by reference to a recent interview with controversial BMW designer Chris Bangle, by US publication Autonews, in which he said modern car design lacked innovation and was in a rut.

“Yeah it’s probably true,” Mr Schreyer said when asked if he agreed with Mr Bangle’s stance. “In a way it’s true. There are lots of similarities out there. But we have to obey so many regulations like pedestrian impact and we all have to play to the same rules.

“Every car has an engine and you need to fit five people, be a certain length, there are regulations where headlights have got to go, and there are so many products out there so you really can’t avoid similarities - it’s impossible.

“It’s partly boring and partly arbitrary,” he said.

 center imageLeft: Hyundai and Kia chief design officer Peter Schreyer.

Mr Schreyer also agreed that the design of the (now discontinued from Australia) Hyundai i45 - which he didn’t pen - had not aged well, but said its comparatively radical design would stand the company in good stead.

The former Audi designer, who is based in Germany, drew a parallel between the i45’s controversial design and that of Chris Bangle’s early efforts, such as the previous-generation 7 Series, which drew scorn at launch but has since been widely imitated.

“Look at BMW,” he said. “Everybody was criticising Chris Bangle’s design because he went a bit far, but BMW would not be where it is now without Chris Bangle, because they’ve cultivated what he has dared to do.

“Somehow I see that early Hyundai design in the same way.” On the subject of radicalising designs, GoAuto quizzed Mr Schreyer on the value of outrageous concept cars at motor shows. Until recently, Mr Schreyer led design exclusively for Kia, and in his time the company has embraced show cars more than most brands.

In the past year alone, it has showed the Niro, Provo and CUB concepts.

“I think for me, first of all we do it because its like internal research for the designers, practice of things, you have freedom and don’t need to deal with engineering and cost issues, even if the cars are made in some sort of realistic way,” he said.

“We can also research where we want to go and show to the public our ambition and what future Kias can be like, even if some don’t see maybe the daylight as a production car, still they are so influential to the next products – they help a lot.”

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