- Vehicle proportion is one of the strategies Hyundai and Kia may incorporate to distinguish the two brands under a new design boss who is in charge of both.
- The styling strategy is being considered by German designer Peter Schreyer, who earlier this month was named chief designer over the Hyundai and Kia brands.
- The styling for the redesigned Hyundai Genesis is unlikely to change, but Schreyer is expected to leave his mark on the future Hyundai Sonata, Tucson and Equus.
DETROIT — Vehicle proportion is one of the strategies Hyundai and Kia may incorporate to distinguish the two brands, the new boss of Hyundai and Kia design told Edmunds at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
The strategy is being considered by German designer Peter Schreyer, who was named chief designer over the Hyundai and Kia brands on January 12. Prior to the announcement, he headed the Kia Motors design staff, which along with Hyundai Motor Company, had operated independent studios.
Schreyer said the length of competing Hyundai and Kia models in the future may differ to help distinguish each brand.
Schreyer said there are some Hyundai and Kia models "where the cars are exactly the same size. I think we can find some differentiation package-wise." The brands share front- and rear-drive vehicle platforms.
Automakers commonly use a single platform for a variety of brands within a company. However, the wheelbase may differ by brand, as well as the distance from the windshield to the front bumper and the distance from the rear window to the end of the vehicle. Those changes are made to the vehicle platform to give stylists more design options in an effort to create the brand's identity.
That strategy is used by General Motors, for example. The Buick LaCrosse and Regal share a platform, as well as the Chevrolet Malibu, but none of those models share any sheetmetal.
Schreyer said it is too early to talk about what impact he will have on the styling direction for Hyundai.
Hyundai unveiled the HCD-14 concept in Detroit. It is a design exercise that shows the styling cues for the redesigned Genesis sedan and future Hyundai models. The redesigned Genesis is expected to debut later this year or early next.
Schreyer said little if anything can be changed to redesigned vehicles that are near production.
Comments from viewers at the Hyundai stand said the HCD-14's styling looked like it was influenced by Audi, especially the Audi-like grille.
Schreyer was hired from Audi six years ago. However, he had nothing to do with the concept's design.
The Hyundai Sonata, Tucson and Equus might see Schreyer's touch. Those models are scheduled to receive minor styling changes for the 2014 or 2015 model year. There is still enough time to make those styling changes.
Schreyer said Kia's design strategy today "is a bit more architectural and Hyundai is a bit more sculptural."
As for the future, "it will be important to define the difference between the two brands. What is their main characteristic?" he said.
Determining Hyundai's design strategy "will be a very delicate thing to do" because Hyundai is the volume brand.
"Hyundai is the mother company, the bigger company, so it needs a very clever way to go forward," he said. "I know Kia very well, but I don't know Hyundai that well. I will need to study (the brand)."
Schreyer is a rising star at the automaker. Last month he was named a president at Kia. Hyundai acquired Kia in 1998.
Edmunds says: Peter Schreyer likely will decide that styling influenced by his former employer is not the direction to take Hyundai for vehicles arriving after the Hyundai Genesis.