Veteran Volkswagen Designer Joins Hyundai China


The hiring of Simon Loasby brings another renowned designer into the Hyundai global design team to help the automaker break away from its lower-price mass vehicle image in its quest to become one of the world’s top-ranked brands.
 
Hyundai Motor Group announces it has hired Simon Loasby as vice president and executive director of Hyundai China Design.
The move brings another renowned designer into the Hyundai global design team to help the automaker break away from its lower-price mass vehicle image in its quest to become one of the world’s top-ranked brands.
Perhaps nowhere in the world is this more vital than in China, where the design image of Beijing Hyundai Motor is closely associated with fleet taxis and many consumers consider the joint venture’s models humdrum and overpriced compared with Chinese homegrown brands.
“Simon Loasby is a renowned designer with incomparable experience in automotive design for the Chinese market,” Peter Schreyer, Hyundai president and chief of design, says in a news release. “We are confident that he will greatly enhance the development of our strategic models that will excite Chinese consumers.”
Since 2008 Loasby has been director of design for Volkswagen China. He played a hands-on role in concept and production designs for popular China-specific VW models such as the Santana, New Lavida and Lamando sedans, as well as the China version of the Passat.
Before joining VW in 2001, Loasby was a lead designer with Rolls-Royce and Bentley. After playing a key role in developing the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph and the Bentley Arnage and Continental GT models, VW lured him to its key design studios in Wolfsburg.
He began his career as a designer in 1991 after earning a master’s degree in vehicle design at the Royal College of Art in London. He also graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the Imperial College of the University of London.
Analysts believe Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun personally was involved in hiring Loasby. Chung recently went to China to inspect operations and determine what could be done to boost the flagging sales of Beijing Hyundai, as well as those of the Kia China JV, Dongfeng Yueda Kia Motor.
Since March both have been hit hard by a government-inspired boycott of Korean products. It is a political move to pressure South Korea to withdraw the recently established U.S. THAAD missile system, said to have powerful radar capabilities that could monitor China’s own missile operations.
Apart from that political pressure, analysts see Hyundai and Kia sales nosediving in China because of the rise of Chinese homegrown products that the market views as equal to Korean brands but are lower-priced. The China-built models are coming on especially strong in the SUV segments, to the detriment of both Hyundai and Kia.
Loasby has been a VW superstar in China. In a press conference ahead of last year’s Beijing auto show he discussed the establishment of the Volkswagen Group Future Center in China, which combines vehicle design with 10 other disciplines.
Loasby, who was appointed chief of the expanded center, said the team would develop new mobility concepts with strong focus on digitalization and seamless connection of vehicles to other electronic devices.
At the same conference Joachem Heizmann, president and CEO of VW China Group announced VW was increasing localization of design and parts supply in China and adding 30,000 jobs by 2020 that would increase total employment in China to 120,000.
Loasby will be based at the newly opened Hyundai Technology and Engineering Center in Yantai. It was built in 2015 and phased into operation last year.
Yantai is a port city in Shandong province, located 315 miles (510 km) southeast of Beijing Hyundai’s three key plants in Beijing on the coast of Korea Bay.
 
Source: Wards Auto