FRANKFURT -- Mazda has bolstered its styling team in Europe with the appointment of veteran design executive Kevin Rice as creative director.
Rice, 49, rejoins the automaker from BMW where he spent 13 years as a designer during which time he was responsible for the styling of models including the 1 series and 4 series.
Prior to joining BMW, Rice was senior designer at Mazda Europe from 1995 to 2000, contributing to the look of the RX-8 roadster and the Neospace concept car.
As creative director, Rice is tasked with leading Mazda's European creative design process. He will focus on further developing the company's new Kodo design language, first launched with the CX-5 medium crossover -- the automaker's top-seller in Europe accounting for more than a third of all sales -- the Mazda6 mid-sized line and Mazda3 compacts.
Rice will be based at Mazda's European r&d center in Oberursel, which is near Frankfurt, and will report to Peter Birtwhistle, chief designer at Mazda Europe.
"We're really excited to have Kevin back. He's no stranger to Mazda, and his experience at BMW adds an extra dimension that will transfer very well to our European design activities," Birtwhistle said in a statement.
Rice, a British national, studied transportation design in the UK before beginning his career at Opel in Germany in 1986. In 1988, he joined Italdesign Giugiaro in Italy, where he stayed for three years before a period spent freelancing for automakers including Ford and Saab.