Hyundai Motor has hired Simon Loasby, head designer of Volkswagen Group China, to lead its design team in China, the company said Tuesday.
Loasby will become the head of Hyundai China Design in Hyundai Motor’s Technology and Engineering Center in the Chinese northeastern coastal city of Yantai later this month.
Hiring the British designer, who worked in China for nearly 10 years, was seen as the South Korean carmaker seeking a breakthrough in its declining sales in the neighboring country.
Simon Loasby (Hyundai Motor)
Hyundai Motor has been struggling in recent months, with its sales plummeting in the face of anti-Korean sentiment over Seoul’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a system designed to intercept missiles.
In the first quarter, the combined sales of Hyundai and Kia in China declined 43 percent compared to a year before, reaching 376,895 units.
The 49-year-old designer is expected to set Hyundai’s new design strategy in China, the company said, calling him an expert who knows what Chinese consumers want.
“Vice President Loasby has researched what Chinese prefer (when it comes to their cars) for nearly 10 years and portrayed them the best in car design,” the company said.
“He will not only design car models to captivate Chinese customers, but also contribute in setting a new market strategy for Hyundai Motor’s China operation.”
Loasby joins Hyundai’s global design team that covers markets in US, Europe and China.
The carmaker’s design centers in the US and Europe are led by former BMW designers Christopher Chapman and Thomas Burkle, respectively, while Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer at Hyundai Motor, takes charge of the design control tower along with Luc Donckerwolke, head of the Hyundai Design Center and lead designer of the carmaker’s luxury brand Genesis.
At Volkswagen Group China, he designed cars made for China only, including the Santana, New Lavida and Passat.
Before Volkswagen, he designed both Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor cars.
By Cho Chung-un (email@example.com