The chief design officer for Kia cars, Peter Schreyer is looking to expand Kia’s global design team.
Schreyer believes new designers will help fulfil his ambition of moving the brand away from having a ‘value’ proposition, to being one which is more design-led, in line with models such as the Kia Kee sports car.
The car company currently has three big design studios worldwide, based in Frankfurt, Germany, California in the US, and South Korea, with a smaller design studio located in Japan. Schreyer says the design team is about 250-strong and he is looking to appoint designers from all disciplines.
He adds, ‘We are thinking about expanding into the Chinese market, but first I will focus on the existing teams to ensure that we maintain the overall Kia design philosophy.’ This is all about the ‘simplicity of clear design’ and will continue to be ‘family-focused’.
Kia is working to make its cars increasingly sustainable, according to Schreyer. He claims an internal research department is developing models which use a fuel cell engine to save energy but adds, ‘Getting it ready for production is going to take time’. By contrast, Kia’s exploration of lightweight technology has come further and is evident in Kia’s motor show offerings. But the number produced will depend on customer demand.
As Schreyer says, ‘Customers have to be prepared to pay for going Green.’
To make a car out of lighterweight material such as aluminium rather than steel is expensive, and if this is replaced by an even lighterweight material such as carbonfibre the expense increases further still. Schreyer predicts that in the next five to ten years, as fuel prices continue to rise and lighter cars are cheaper to run, customers will in all likelihood embrace hi-tech materials.
In America, he says, smaller cars are becoming increasingly popular due to costing less. He says that the fashion for downsizing suits Kia. It is currently displaying an addition to its small car range – the Kia Soul, whose design can be likened to a Mini Cooper – at motor shows including the British International Motor Show at London’s Excel across the summer.
Schreyer joined Kia in 2006,having previously worked at Audi where he was responsible for the creation of the Audi TT.