Top Kia design officer targets Apple’s ‘must-have’ brand appeal

Car designer Peter Schreyer, chief design officer at Kia Motors, is looking to build a brand as recognisable, successful and influential as Apple Computer.

Speaking ahead of his honorary doctorate award at the Royal College of Art last week, Schreyer says his vision for the South Korean car company, which is owned by Hyundai, is to make ’emotional’ products that convey the ‘want to have factor’, ahead of notions like value for money.

‘I’d compare what I want to do with Apple, rather than another car company,’ says Schreyer. ‘It’s a much better example of what you can do with a brand,’ he adds.

In response to a question on how Kia is incorporating innovation and technology into the automobile business, Schreyer hints that the integration of lifestyle technology into car design is currently high on the agenda.

‘Mobile phones, iPods and satellite navigation are all things that could be integrated into car design,’ he says.

Schreyer also concedes that environmental responsibility is becoming ever more important for car designers to embrace, but says it is not something that design can solve overnight.

‘I think sometimes the general public thinks that the automotive industry has all the answers tucked away in a drawer and is withholding them because of pressure from the oil companies, but this is not the case,’ he explains.

‘It takes a long time to develop a design that works in terms of consumer price, materials and fuel consumption. What is environmentally sound is not necessarily what the public wants to drive. I don’t think the public is ready for that sort of design yet,’ he adds.

Schreyer says that one of his aims at Kia is to find an environmentally sound product that ‘really excites’.

Kia Motors appointed Schreyer, who is known for his design of the current Volkswagen Beetle and the Audi TT, in August last year.

Schreyer (pictured) currently heads up three international teams of designers for the company, based in South Korea, Frankfurt in Germany, and Los Angeles in the US.

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