Kia's rising star Schreyer to take charge of Hyundai group car design

Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:21am EST
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By Sung-won Shim

SEOUL (Reuters) - German designer Peter Schreyer, known as the creative brain behind the Audi TT, will oversee both Kia (000270.KS: Quote) and Hyundai's (005380.KS: Quote) designs, the Hyundai automotive group said on Sunday, as the carmaker seeks to outdo German rivals Volkswagen and BMW.

Schreyer's star is rising fast at the South Korean company, where only three weeks ago he was named a president at Kia, the first foreigner to hold the post. He was promoted from chief design officer and executive vice president at Kia.

He will assume the newly created role to oversee the design of both Hyundai and Kia, which together make up the world's fifth biggest automaker. The design operations of the two carmakers had been run by separate design chiefs.

Kia, acquired by Hyundai Motor in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis, has been expanding sales at a faster pace than Hyundai Motor in markets such as the United States and Europe.

Schreyer's new appointments coincide with Hyundai Motor's efforts to move up market and boost margins.

A Hyundai spokesman on Sunday cited the group's need "to more clearly set up each automaker's own, unique brand color".

"President Peter Schreyer, with abundant design experience at world-renowned automakers and deep comprehension of Hyundai-Kia's corporate culture, will play a great role in consolidating the foundation for Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors to take a leap towards a top-class automaker," the spokesman, who was not named, said in a statement.

The promotion is a clear sign of the automotive group's ambition to outdo German rivals Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) and BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote) in design - a key part of a strategy that has helped the South Korean duo ramp up sales and gain market share even during the global economic downturn in 2009.   Continued...

Peter Schreyer (2nd L) chief design director of Kia Motors, poses wit members of his team beside a Kia concept car at the Frankfurt International Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt September 11, 2007. REUTERS/Christian Charisius