SEOUL, South Korea -- Peter Schreyer, the German design chief of South Korea’s Kia Motors Corp., normally steers clear of “Koreanesque” styling in his cars, as a matter of principle.
But his latest concept creation -- the Naimo electric vehicle -- bends the rules.
“A lot of people ask what is the K-factor, what is the Koreaness, in the cars, which is hard to answer because there isn’t any really,” Schreyer said on the eve of the Seoul Motor Show.
“To be honest, we don’t want the cars to look Korea,” he says.
But the more time he spends in Korea, the more its influences creep in. Exhibit A: the Naimo concept, which made its world debut at the Seoul show.
“This one we did with the inspiration of using Koreaness. So it will have some clues in it coming from Korean crafts and art,” Schreyer said of the car.
The car combines the tradition of ancient Korea with the technology of modern Korea.
Its pale green jade color is derived from that used in Korean Celadon-style pottery. The headliner is made from hand-crafted hanji paper. Korean oak is used to trim the doors and cover the floor, as it is in traditional Korean architecture.
Those details are juxtaposed against an all-electric drivetrain, ample onboard multimedia systems, an asymmetric sunroof, and extensive use of light-emitting diode lighting. The car also has no B-pillars.
Schreyer said the Korean flair gives the Naimo a “certain uniqueness.”
Naimo takes its name from the Korean word “ne-mo,” which means square shape. It is the third electric vehicle design from Kia in a year.
Its 80-kilowatt electric motor powered by lithium ion polymer batteries can deliver top speeds of 93 mph. Kia says it can run 124 miles on a full charge.
Schreyer, who joined Kia in 2006 from Audi, has redesigned most of the brand’s lineup to have a more aggressive, edgy look -- as typified by the Optima sedan.