DETROIT — Peter Schreyer has presided over Kia’s image transformation for more than a decade, helping the brand move from bland econoboxes to the sportier, more visually striking products on roads today.
Schreyer, Hyundai-Kia’s design chief, says Kia now has clear positioning as a young and sporty brand.
He says the muscular Stinger sedan has been an influencer. For instance, Stinger design language was embedded in the third-generation Forte compact sedan, which Kia says gives it a commanding road presence.
Schreyer, 64, spoke with Staff Reporter Vince Bond Jr. this month at the Detroit auto show about Kia’s progress, the Genesis luxury line and upcoming products such as the Forte and next-generation Hyundai Veloster.
Q: How do you feel about Kia’s design evolution over the last decade or so?
A: We’ve managed to give the brand identity and positioning. It’s a very young and sporty brand. Hyundai is sporty too, but in a different way. Kia is the useful challenger and Hyundai is the charismatic leader. We have a different approach in design for the two brands.
Kia went a long way. With the Stinger, we have the crown on the model range.
A lot of exciting things are happening within the Hyundai Motor Group. We started Genesis as an independent brand from the other ones. We created a brand from scratch. I’m often asked how does [Genesis] differentiate from Hyundai. Genesis is a completely different thing, a different animal. I think we can work with great proportions. The [Genesis models] we are working on now are very fresh and new. They’re going to stand out quite a bit.
Have you brought anything from your Audi years that you’ve tried to adapt for Kia and Hyundai?
What I brought was the experience. I was in Audi and in Volks- wagen; I was working with Lamborghinis. I have experience with Audi on how we build up the brand to a premium brand. ... It started with the Quattro and new technologies. Little by little, we had the first A8 and TT. For me, having this as a background, that kind of knowledge and this kind of experience was very important. Not to copy the design, that’s not the point, but to be experienced to do this type of thing. How to build an interior that is looking good, that has a premium feeling, that is economically right. This is something I’ve brought with me.