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Kia hires ex-BMW designer Pierre Leclercq as new design boss

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Hyundai Motor Group is boosting its arsenal of top designers by adding Belgian Pierre Leclercq to its ranks.

Leclercq will fill the new role of Head of Styling for Kia, where he will be in charge of shaping the long-term design strategy for the brand. He’s also been tasked with ensuring consistency of Kia’s design language across an expanding lineup.

Based at Kia’s design headquarters in Namyang, Korea, Leclercq will work alongside Peter Schreyer who is head of design for the whole Hyundai Motor Group. The group includes the new luxury brand Genesis whose head designer is also a Belgian, ex-Bentley and Lamborghini designer Luc Donckerwolke.

Like Schreyer and Donckerwolke, Leclercq also has some impressive design chops. He’s worked for the likes of Ford, Great Wall Motors and Zagato, but most notably BMW where he was influential in the design of the X5 and X6 lines as well as models from BMW M.

Leclercq joined BMW in 2000 at the automaker’s Designworks studio in California. In 2004 he became Senior Exterior Designer for BMW working from its Munich headquarters. And in 2011 he became Brand Design Chief for BMW M. In 2013, he left BMW to join Great Wall Motors as Head of Design.

It is Leclercq’s insight into the Chinese market that is particularly important for Hyundai Motor Group, whose performance in the world’s biggest market has been lagging that of rivals. The automaker’s sales in China have recently been on the decline, with political tensions between the Chinese and South Korean governments not helping.  Hyundai’s sales fell 29 percent and Kia’s 42 percent in the first half of 2017.

Leclercq’s appointment comes three months after Hyundai Motor Group announced the recruitment of Simon Loasby, former director of Volkswagen Group China, as its China design head.

Despite the challenges, Kia design is definitely on the up and up. The rear-wheel-drive Stinger isn’t even in showrooms yet but so far has been overwhelmingly positively received. And Kia stunned audiences with its Proceed concept car unveiled this week at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

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