06/18/12 ID: 5215

Peter Schreyer’s Vision for Redefining a Car Brand One Vehicle at a Time  

  • A bold designer takes Kia Motors’ vehicles in a whole new direction
  • Peter Schreyer’s pen infuses Korean car company with European style and a premium aesthetic

IRVINE, Calif., June 18, 2012 – Some must have considered whether Peter Schreyer had lost the ability to think rationally.  There could be no other explanation as to why the Design Chief of Volkswagen and Audi would depart the studios he’d helped make famous for Kia Motors Corporation (KMC). Back in 2006, Kia was still making in-roads into many of the markets Schreyer’s former employer had dominated for decades. Schreyer, however, saw the potential in Kia and welcomed the challenge he’d been offered: Completely redefine the image of the Kia brand through the power of design.

“It’s every designer’s dream,” says Schreyer today, six years after taking the helm of Kia’s global design headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. “Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to be given a blank sheet of paper and the freedom to recreate the design aesthetic of a global automotive company?” Schreyer’s refined European design language has since visually transformed the Korean automaker and has been a key component to the company’s record-breaking year-on-year sales successes.

Schreyer infused a vital dose of visual dynamism into Kia to create cars with distinctive characters united by a bold and immediately identifiable face. The “tiger nose” has become a design hallmark for the brand, the leading edge of a sharpened form language communicating assertiveness and a fun-to-drive attitude. Using the frontal shape as a foundation, Schreyer and his teams in Frankfurt, Seoul and Irvine, Calif., set out to work on the most ambitious design-led transformation in Kia’s history.

2010 – Soul
Perhaps more than any other Kia vehicle, the Soul has changed the way consumers think about the concept of combining utility and style. The versatile five-door's low, wide stance is paired with an angled window line, rounded nose and large flared-back headlamps, giving it a playful and lively appearance. With a friendly face and exuberant personality accentuated by LED daytime running lights, Soul is perfect for coastline drives or cruising downtown city streets, embodying the mantra, "a new way to roll."

In profile, the beltline rises from the front wheel arch to create a gentle wedge shape and continues under and around the rear side window. The rear is dominated by the vertical combination tail lamps set into the body color panel with clear outer lenses. The body and wheel arch crease line extends around the bumper for a tough – not rough – style that harmoniously blends the front and rear together.

2010 – Forte and Forte Koup
With aggressive design cues, the Forte sedan and Forte 5-door firmly established themselves as strong contenders in a segment filled with milquetoast offerings. Sporting a bold look set apart by crisp lines, swept-back headlamps and a sleek profile, Forte's wide, stable stance conveys motion while cruising the highways or when parked in the driveway. The Forte 5-door shares a similar frontward facing stance with the sedan and offers a rounded rear to increase cargo capacity, space and functionality for those in the hatchback market.

From the front and side, Forte sedan and Forte 5-door project a clean and assertive presence with sweeping window arches, smooth fender flairs and body-color side mirrors and door handles. Turn signal indicators are integrated into the side mirrors and tasteful design cues are effortlessly streamlined to the rear with angled wrapped tail lamps and an uncluttered rear fascia.

Based on the KOUP concept vehicle that bowed at the 2008 New York International Auto Show, Forte Koup's fluid lines and balanced proportions closely mirror the powerful design cues of the concept vehicle and offer the same refined and athletic stance with swept-back wrap-around headlamps, aggressive air intakes and a low, sleek profile. Forte Koup offers a muscular yet sophisticated design, and even from behind, the two-door coupe exudes attitude with slim, wrapped tail lamps, dual exhaust outlets and a rear diffuser.

2011 – Sorento
Based on the KND-4 concept shown during the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, Sorento offers the same swept-back lines and dynamic presence as the concept vehicle. With an angled window line, large flared-back headlamps, prominent fog lamps and a rounded nose, Sorento clearly belongs to the Kia family and effortlessly conveys strength and authority. The view from the rear offers the same forceful attitude with a rounded back and tail lamps set powerfully within the rear lift gate.

The now ubiquitous front clip provides Sorento a sporty, dynamic appearance. And while the window lines around the D-pillar are rakish and provocative, the upright orientation of the sheet metal allows Kia to offer seating for up to seven passengers. Gently sculpted fenders and door-cut lines combine to soften the angles and create a shape that is at once highly stylized and highly functional. With its perfect combination of design, value and functionality, it’s easy to see why Sorento was KMA’s best-selling vehicle for two straight years.

2011 – Sportage
Drawing generously from the distinct styling elements of the Kue concept, the Sportage’s front end proudly displays the new face of Kia, or the “Schreyer line” as it is now called. With dramatic swept-back headlamps, signature tabbed grille and a distinctive lower fascia treatment, the Sportage carries a decidedly sporty approach to its exterior design. The dynamically sculpted hood, framed by a distinctive windshield design, adds to Sportage’s fresh appeal. The rear view offers a clean and contemporary look with pronounced unique tail lights set solidly within the rear lift gate. Longer, wider and lower than the model it replaced, the Sportage CUV successfully retained the key features – commanding driving position, heightened sense of security and powerful road presence – which helped make the second-generation Sportage so popular among consumers.

The sleek design of the exterior flows seamlessly into the interior, establishing an inviting and comfortable cockpit with well-appointed features. The signature three-pot instrument cluster set prominently within the dash is lit with a sporty red hue only amplifying the vehicle’s athletic intentions.

2011 – Optima
The game changer.

When the Optima made its debut at the 2010 New York International Auto Show, media whispers about the stunning new Kia sedan drew executives from competing brands to the Korean automaker’s stand in droves. Shortly after, product planners and engineers were sent scurrying over to snap pictures and discreetly take measurements.

Perhaps no other Schreyer-influenced Kia vehicle drove the brand further forward than the 2011 Optima midsize sedan. The Optima projects a high-performance yet elegant image with its unique silhouette and sleek stance built solidly upon Kia Motors’ now well-respected philosophy of creating high quality and dynamic vehicles that evoked passion and desire. The striking face of Optima once again features Kia’s signature, bold tabbed grille surrounded by projector headlamps seductively wrapped into the front fenders. Longer, wider and lower than the previous generation vehicle, the Optima’s coupe-like profile is enhanced by a sweeping chrome arc that flows from the A through C pillars, a distinctive design motif that visually lowers the car and enhances its aggressive proportions. Optima’s roofline connects with its high and pronounced shoulder line, leading to sculpted flanks that highlight the extended wheelbase. Boldly flared wheel arches and a raked cabin create a sedan with a graceful muscular stance.

Slipping into the deeply bolstered sport seats reveals a cockpit designed for the enthusiast. The deep instrument nacelles and the canted center stack draw focus to the matter at hand: driving. The sweeping dash features contrasting stitching and large switchgear accented in tasteful chrome bezels.  The Optima is the perfect storm of design, performance and value and is little wonder the midsize sedan has taken over as sales leader in the U.S. just more than a year after its memorable introduction.

2012 – Rio
Conceived at Kia’s design studios in Irvine, Calif., under Schreyer’s watchful eye and visionary direction, the 2012 Rio sub-compact sedan and hatchback exhibit highly sculpted sloping shoulder lines for a wedge-shaped exterior, projecting an athletic profile that conveys power and agility while mimicking the aggressive lines found on the Optima and Sportage. Both Rio models sport their own interpretations of Kia’s signature grille, slimmed down to connect to the dynamic headlamp design, providing a new twist on the Kia family look that includes a bigger air intake to exude a youthful persona. The Rio sedan shares the sleek skin of its hatchback sibling, only dropping the wedge line slightly toward the rear door down to the trunk.

Moving inside, the 2012 Rio envelopes driver and passengers in a bold and modern cabin centered on Kia's now-characteristic horizontal three-cylinder instrument panel. The two-tone color scheme along the instrument panel emphasizes a feeling of spaciousness and comfort. An extended wheelbase (101.2 inches) greatly enhances passenger and cargo capacity for additional comfort and functionality.

2012 and beyond
So what does Schreyer do now? In the world of automotive design there is no finish line. He will continue to push his design teams to create bold interpretations of the new aesthetic that he created for Kia, setting the brand apart from the competition in new and exciting ways.

Stay tuned. 

Kia’s Unprecedented Growth
Kia Motors is one of the world’s fastest moving global automotive brands; from 2009-2011 Kia launched more new vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer earned a reputation as an industry leader in automotive styling.  Kia Motors America’s full line of fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has earned critical acclaim and dramatically increased consumer awareness, perception and consideration for the brand.  In 2011, KMA recorded its 17th consecutive year of market share growth, thanks in part to the largest increase of any major brand in perceived quality1 and the industry’s highest brand loyalty ranking2.  Kia’s U.S.-based manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia – KMMG – is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and builds two of the company’s best-selling vehicles in the U.S. – the Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan*.  Kia’s value and technology-laden lineup also includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.

Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – For media information, including photography, visit

* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are built in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts.

1 Source:  Automotive Lease Guide Spring 2011 Perceived Quality Study.

2 Source: Experian Automotive Q2 2011 market analysis.


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