Kia’s chief designer Peter Schreyer has gotten the promotion to be its president, making him the first foreigner to get to this position at the company. Schreyer is tasked to lead the company in raising its global profile. Kia released a statement to confirm that Schreyer, the German-born executive who moved to Kia from Volkswagen AG in 2006, received the promotion to president from executive vice president.
Schreyer, who is based in Frankfurt, will still have his position as chief design officer and will be one of Kia’s three presidents. Shin Chung Kwan, an analyst at KB Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul, said that this promotion is proof of how Kia’s major focus has shifted from production and cost efficiency to design and research and development.
He also said that the change is symbolic of Kia’s desire to move forward as a global company and to demonstrate that a foreigner may make it to the very top. Chairman Chung Mong Koo is the head of both Kia and Hyundai Motor Co. Six years ago, the chairman’s son Chung Eui Sun hired Schreyer when he was co-CEO of Kia. The efforts of these South Korean brands are clearly targeted at moving upscale and erase their reputations as producers of cheap, utilitarian cars.
Schreyer, who designed the Audi TT Coupe, was hired to revamp Kia's lineup and to enable the automaker to price its models higher. With this promotion, it has also become apparent that Kia and Hyundai seek to do better than Volkswagen and BMW in terms of design.
It is this aspect of its strategy that has aided Kia and Hyundai to increase sales and widen their market share even in 2009 during the worldwide financial crisis. When interviewed by Automotive News last November, Volkswagen's Chairman Ferdinand Piech said that the company shouldn’t have allowed Schreyer to leave them. Schreyer held the opinion that Kia’s designs were ‘neutral’ before he became a part of Kia.