Ex-Audi designer Schreyer is a Kia president without the pressure
It has yet to be shown that star designers can be transformed into heads of big car company divisions. In March 2010, General Motors moved design ace Bryan Nesbitt back to the styling world after seven months as Cadillac's overall chief.
Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's chief designer, spent only 21 months running Dodge after his surprise appointment in the fall of 2009. He does remain head of Chrysler's Street and Racing Technologies (SRT) performance brand, and has never given up his design duties.
So when designer Peter Schreyer was named president of Kia Motors over the holidays, we wondered about the wisdom of the move.
But it turns out that Schreyer's ascension is different. The German national will be one of three Kia "presidents" and will not pick up any extra administrative duties beyond his continuing role as head of global design.
"He'll wield some more influence, I would assume, going forward with the president's role," Kia spokesman Michael Choo said.
The promotion does reflect well on the 59-year-old former Audi designer who took over as Kia's styling chief in 2006. His team introduced a common front shape with the "tiger-nose" grille for Kia models that is now a prominent feature on almost all the company's vehicles.
As Volkswagen Supervisory Board Chairman Ferdinand Piech told Automotive News, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe, in November: "We should not have let him go."