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Hyundai design chief set to put distance between it and Kia

Hyundai will get its face made up as its new design chief sets out on his task to put clear space between it and sister brand Kia.

Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer of the Hyundai Motor Group, said: "Hyundai already has a kind of distinctive design direction, what is still missing is a clear identity, particularly in its face."

Since 2006, Schreyer has overseen a design revolution at Kia with a series of show-stopping concept cars, the first of which, the Kee, featured the now ubiquitous 'tiger' nose grille.

That grille, he said, has given Kia its unique identity and character. There is a different challenge ahead, however. He said: "Hyundai is a different challenge (to Kia) because the product range is wider. Many of the pieces are right, they just need re-arranging in a different order.

"Certainly in Korea, the Hyundai name carries more cultural and political baggage than Kia which is a much younger brand. It has more involvement historically in Korean society so it is not as easy to create something new."

There are no plans to separate out the model ranges - both brands will continue to sell in the same market segments. Schreyer added: "Many of the products are full range and in most segments we sell cars for both brands. This doesn't mean we are in competition, it provides double the opportunity in the same market. What we have to do is differentiate the brands better and we are working on this."

The Hyundai and Kia design teams will remain separate. They currently share a building at the Group's Namyang research and development centre in South Korea, but a new building for the Kia designers is under construction there now.

Schreyer said: "The teams will remain separate but there is no reason why they can't share ideas and get a better understanding of what the other is doing. There is a lot we have in common and we can use that to mutual advantage. What I want to create is a momentum and dynamism to take each brand to the next level."

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