Simon Loasby, the new global design chief of Hyundai, is a Volkswagen veteran who says he's open to "radical" changes in the design of the Korean automaker’s next-generation of models as it incorporates electrification and autonomous driving. This may also include a reassessment of current sedans.
The British-born Loasby, 51, is the former vice president of Hyundai's design team in China. Last week, he assumed responsibilities as head of the Hyundai Styling Group at the Hyundai Design Center in South Korea. Loasby has indicated that he would like to take the sporty look of the brand, named Sensuous Sportiness, to the next level.
Sensuous Sportiness, which is apparent in the Le Fil Rouge four-door coupe concept that debuted at last year's Geneva auto show, is also visible in the remodeled Sonata sedan that will arrive this fall. "If this generation is Sensuous Sportiness, do we carry on with that? Is that still relevant in five years? Or does it need to take a directional or radical step change?" Loasby says.
Loasby wonders if we still need conventional sedans. "A serious question: How many more petrol-engine, diesel-engine cars do we need? These are fundamentals we'll get into for the next generations of our high-volume products," he adds.
He believes that future designs will have to integrate quickly evolving trends in technology, especially those related to EV platforms, autonomy, drones, and robotics. "What's next — that will be the challenge for us," Loasby says, adding that he will soon face the challenge of designing a new look for the next-generation Sonata, which is due in about five years.
Loasby will direct Hyundai brand design and report to SangYup Lee, who leads Hyundai and Genesis design as head of the Hyundai Design Center, and to Luc Donckerwolke, who is the chief design officer of Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Hyundai, Genesis and Kia.
The new global design chief joined Hyundai as director of China design in 2017. Before that, he was the director of design for Volkswagen Group China for nine years. He began his design career in 1991 and worked at Bentley and Rolls-Royce before moving to Germany with Volkswagen and then to China. Loasby has a master's degree in vehicle design from the Royal College of Art in London and studied mechanical engineering at the University of London.
Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor offers a range of vehicles and mobility services in over 200 countries. The company, which has more than 120,000 employees worldwide, has sold about 4.6 million vehicles globally. Hyundai Motor is currently focused on solutions for a more sustainable future, such as NEXO -- the world’s first dedicated hydrogen-powered SUV.