Luc Donckerwolke has been named as head of design for the Hyundai and Kia brands, according to sources. Donckerwolke, a Belgian and a 23-year veteran of the Volkswagen Group, will take the position vacated by Peter Schreyer. Hyundai has yet to confirm this report.
However, sources told Automotive News Europe that 49-year-old Donckerwolke has resigned as styling chief at VW Group's Bentley brand earlier this month to accept Hyundai’s offer, which he referred as the “offer of a lifetime."
Donckerwolke was a designer for Audi and he was also the design chief of the VW group’s Lamborghini and Seat brands. At Volkswagen, Donckerwolke oversaw the designs of the Audi R8 Le Mans, the Lamborghini Murcielago and the Lamborghini Gallardo. Donckerwolke will transfer to Korea. After a transition period, he will take his place as the chief of design when 63-year-old Schreyer retires after two years.
Schreyer, who is credited for Audi TT, was given a promotion in 2013 to supervise the designs of both Kia and Hyundai. He was responsible for Hyundai’s and Kia’s fresh appearance throughout their ranges. He was named as the top designer of the brand after leaving the VW Group in 2006.
In late March while the New York auto show was ongoing, Donckerwolke criticized the design of the recently introduced 2016 Lincoln Continental. On Facebook, he wrote: “Do you want us to send you the product tooling?”
At the time, Schreyer said that he wants Kia and Hyundai to have distinct identities in what he refers to as a “dramatic evolution.”
Hyundai won’t confirm the management change, saying that the company won’t issue comments on speculation about possible appointments. Lincoln’s head designer, David Woodhouse, had said that Donckerwolke’s comment was “offensive.”
Earlier this month, Volkswagen announced that Donckerwolke has left the company. The 49-year-old veteran at the Volkswagen Group oversaw design for Lamborghini and Seat before he was transferred to Bentley in 2012.
Taking over Donckerwolke’s position is Stefan Sielaff, who will start work as the design chief. Sielaff is currently 53 years old and has most recently led VW’s Potsdam design center in Germany. He entered Volkswagen in 1999 at Audi’s interior design department. He then worked at DaimlerChrysler for three years before returning to VW in 2006 to head Audi’s design. He was appointed as the head of the Volkswagen design center in Potsdam and chief of group interior design strategy.
As director of design at Bentley, Sielaff will report to engineering chief Rolf Frech and will still report to head of VW group design Walter de Silva.