Kia Motors Corp. has hired Oleg Son, a renowned auto designer and expert in the Chinese market, to lead its Chinese auto design team in hopes the former Peugeot Citroen Automobiles SA’s (PSA Group) designer who spearheaded the French auto giant’s Chinese design center can salvage the Korean car maker from sinking in the world’s largest car market.
According to Kia Motors on Wednesday, starting next month, Son, former PSA designer, will take on the role as executive director and head of Kia Motors design at its technology center in China. Son will work with Kia Motors President and chief design officer Peter Schreyer and vice president and head of Kia’s design center Youn Seon-ho to develop customized designs specifically tailored to the Chinese market.
The move comes after the Korean car maker has been consistently losing ground in the world’s biggest auto market. The fall in Kia Motors’ auto sales in China has been accelerated further amid the prolonged diplomatic tension between China and Korea over Seoul’s deployment of U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).
Son, who has 30 years’ experience in automotive design, is expected to establish customized design development process for the Chinese market based on his experience as design head at China PSA and groom young Kia Motors designers who can fast respond to demands of Chinese consumers. In prior to joining the Korean carmaker, Son was in charge of designing luxury car brand DS Series at PSA Group as well as other general model designing for vehicles sold in China.
Following the latest appointment, Kia Motors would have two China-dedicated design experts. Pierre Leclercq, former head of BMW M Design and vice president of China’s Great Wall Motors Design, also joined Kia Design Center in China before Son.
French-born Son, who joined Citroen in 1998 as auto designer, studied at the Royal College of Art in London, the United Kingdom. He was first recognized for his designing of the Citroen C3 and C2 before becoming chief designer at Citroen in 2003. He also led the designing of the C4, Picasso, new C3, and Citroen GT. After his stay in China from 2008 to 2011, Son returned to Europe and led the designing of PSA Group’s luxury brand DS.
By Park Chang-young
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