Kia chief design officer Peter Schreyer has been appointed one of three company presidents; he was formerly an executive vice president. That makes Schreyer, 59, the first non-Korean president in the history of Kia Motors. Kia credits Schreyer with revitalizing the company by updating its styling direction, and he will be tasked with continuing that trend in the future.
German-born Peter Schreyer had a long tenure as a designer at Volkswagen and Audi, responsible for cars like the Passat and Audi TT, before joining Kia in 2006. He helped create a common design language for all Kia vehicles -- the "tiger-nose" front grille is his most obvious contribution -- and his team redesigned every single model in the company's lineup. The next mass-market vehicle designed by Schreyer's team, the Carens people-mover, will launch in 2013.
The design update dramatically changed Kia's reputation, transforming its cars from forgettable to enviable. So impressive was the shift in the company's vehicles that we named Schreyer our 2012 Man of the Year. "Today's Kia range is admired, respected, even envied. Its cars are well-made, good performers, and -- above all -- good-looking," wrote design editor Robert Cumberford. "That quality can essentially be attributed to one man, Peter Schreyer."
Kia says that as president and chief design officer, Schreyer will keep "making Kia the most design-focused Korean car manufacturer." This will clearly help Kia with its publicly announced goal of moving its vehicles upscale over the next few years. The automaker expects its products to be on par with those from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and, ironically, Audi, within the next five years.
Sources: Kia, Automotive News