This article reports on Automobile Magazine’s 2012 automotive man of the year – Kia Motors chief designer Peter Schreyer.
The vehicle, whether it is a car, truck, crossover, minivan, etc., has been perfected to the point that most of them operate quietly and dependably. And other than improving the gas mileage, what is the ‘next frontier’ for the vehicle or place that no machine has gone before?
Well, the next level seems to be vehicle styling that activates a powerful emotional response. In other words, not only will vehicles drive well but the entire package including a vehicle’s look is where it seems to be moving. Thus, automakers are reportedly putting major effort and funding into vehicle design and styling.
One automaker that is making major strides with its design is Kia. Six short years ago Kias were viewed as inexpensive transportation and surely not world-class objects of desire.
Today, however, Kias are respected, admired and even envied by other automakers. The simple truth is that Kias are well made, perform efficiently, are dependable, reasonably priced and good looking (starting to push emotional buttons).
Kia’s recent success with quality and design is attributable to a single man – Peter Schreyer! Automobile has named him its automotive man of the year. He is a 58 year old industry veteran who has spent half of his lifetime in vehicle design. He started out with Audi in 1980 and then Volkswagen. He returned to Audi as the chief designer from 1994 until 2002. Audi has been recognized for its sharp design the foundation of which was due to Peter Schreyer.
Schreyer received the highest design award from the Federal Republic of Germany as well as an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art where he attended from 1979 and 1980.
Schreyer is described as a real car guy. As a youth he was impressed by the Jaguar E-Type as well as the Porsche 911. At the age of 21, he was driving a Fiat X1/9. Today, he drives a supercharged Pininfarina Spider Azzure (Fiat 124) roadster and a V12-cylinder Jaguar E-Type Coupe.
Cars are not Schreyer’s only concern however. He has an apartment in Frankfurt where he stays during the week. However, when he joined Kia in 2005 he kept his family home near Ingolstadt so that his teen children could remain at their school.
Schreyer is responsible for Kia design studios located in Frankfurt, Irvin, CA, a main studio near Soul as well as a new satellite studio in Shanghai. Consequently, he spends much time traveling on commercial airlines. As a matter of fact, he is so busy flying from studio to studio for work that he sold his own personal Cessna jet due to a lack of time to fly it.
Schreyer is trying to learn the Korean language but he says that it is very different from any languages he has known. He doubts that he will ever completely master it. Furthermore, he says that the Korean mind work differently. He says that Kia is very demanding but the automaker wants to be the best and thus they are supportive of his work.
As can be seen from the rear-wheel drive Kia GT Concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show, there is more great looking designs on the way from Kia’s Peter Schreyer and his design team.