Meet Peter Schreyer, The Man Behind The Gorgeous Look of Hyundai, Kia and Genesis

Peter Schreyer

If you’ve wondered who’s behind the sharp new styles of the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands, here he is.

Known for wearing all black clothing and black eyeglasses designed by Philippe Starck, Peter Schreyer has style. And that style extends to the automobiles he designs for the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands. Since joining the Korea based Hyundai-Kia brand in 2006, Schreyer’s excellent sense of style has made its way into the brand designs as sharper more modern vehicles. The formerly nondescript Kia and Hyundai models are now taking the center stage with innovative designs.

They’re making a statement and it is bold. And Schreyer is making a statement – as the first non-Korean president of the brand.

So how does he do it? What’s the inspiration behind the designs?

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, I sat down with Schreyer to talk about what inspires the designs he creates. It’s a question often asked by journalists but his answer may surprise you.

“Most journalists expect me to say my inspiration comes from other car models, but that’s not the case. I collect my ideas for the designs from different lifestyles around the world,” Schreyer says. Taking into consideration the architecture and design styles of a variety of cultures is key to the ideas behind the style of the brand. “The things we observe seep into our minds for design sometimes knowingly but often times unknowingly and when designers start to discuss something that’s stereotypical, I look in the opposite direction to see if there’s something there.”


Kia Stinger

The 2018 Kia Stinger Photo by Kia

The man responsible for elevating the Audi brand is doing the same for Hyundai, Kia and Genesis

When Schreyer joined the Hyundai-Kia group he brought with him the experience of elevating the status of a brand. That brand was Audi. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but when I joined Audi it wasn’t prestigious–in fact it was almost embarrassing to work with Audi,” says Schreyer. During his tenure with Audi, the brand began to put a strong emphasis on technology, they began to race some of the vehicle models and they won championships. Schreyer was part of the movement from a low image brand to the prestigious brand we know as Audi today.

“What I brought with me to the Kia design was the more general philosophy of design,” says Schreyer. “For example, the Kia philosophy is simplicity and pureness: it’s like a snow crystal where as the Hyundai is more like a water drop.”

Snow crystals are architectural: no two are alike but all are made from the same principal. Hyundai designs are created from a different approach…more of a practical design. With the introduction of the luxury Genesis brand, Hyundai has been able to step out of the value brand box and provide a great luxury experience.

Peter Schreyer

Peter Schreyer with his new baby, the 2018 Kia Stinger

And now we meet Peter’s new baby, the 2018 Kia Stinger

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Peter’s new baby was unveiled: The Kia Stinger.  The Stinger began as a story.

“The concept of the car was created around a story idea. It represents the way things were back in the 1970s when people would travel from Paris to the South of France in a fast car–but in style. That’s the idea behind the car,” says Schreyer.

The Stinger was first introduced as a concept car in 2011 and met with enthusiastic response by automotive dealers, customers and the media. “Before the concept car we already had the dream of the Stinger.”

It took the Korean management team longer than usual to approve the building of the model, but that gave Peter’s team more time to get the design right. When asked about his favorite feature of the Stinger, Peter says “It’s not just one thing, it’s the overall impression the car makes. It appears as if it’s bonded to the street.”

And it has power…it’s a Stinger.


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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss