By on March 31, 2011

I’d like to think that it’s time the global car industry moved past its old fixation on national characteristics, but apparently the “national question” is still relevant, at least to Peter Schreyer, Kia’s German-born chief designer. Previewing his latest design concept, the Naimo EV, Schreyer tells Automotive News [sub]

A lot of people ask what is the K-factor, what is the Koreaness, in the cars, which is hard to answer because there isn’t any really. To be honest, we don’t want the cars to look Korea.

This one we did with the inspiration of using Koreaness. So it will have some clues in it coming from Korean crafts and art

How so?

Its pale green jade color is derived from that used in Korean Celadon-style pottery. The headliner is made from hand-crafted hanji paper. Korean oak is used to trim the doors and cover the floor, as it is in traditional Korean architecture.

And the rest of the design? Is that supposed to reflect Schreyer’s “Germaness,” or is it a product of his German-based perception of what “Koreaness” is supposed to be? Meanwhile perhaps the most interesting question for Schreyer would be: how do you keep production Kias from “looking Korean”? The national question is one huge can of worms, and it inevitably leads to some awkward conversations. And, in this case anyway, it seems to have even led to an awkward design.

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13 Comments on “Finding Naimo: Peter Schreyer Tackles The National Question...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    Kia MINI. ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar

    Homogenize the world!

  • avatar

    That doesn’t look generically “asian” or Japanese or Chinese at all.

    That really does look really Korean. Awesome. Good for them.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      Differentiating themselves from Chinese, and especially Japanese schools of car design would seem to be a worthwhile goal of Korean companies.  [So long as it ‘sells’ from an aesthetic point of view in the rest of the world.]   About thirty years ago, that was a major point made in a travelling Korean art exhibition that visited museums all over the world….Korean arts were “different” in style from that of Japan, and China.

  • avatar

    I’m sure an X5-M would own the hell out of it though.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    What really makes it Korean is the fact that in the trunk, hidden away from everyone is a dictator with a Don King hairstyle threatening to come through the back seat and kill the driver with a nuclear weapon he created. The only thing preventing this is an American army sitting in the back seat.

    And the car smells like Kimchi.

    Peter Schreyer says he based that design on the 1932 German model that was popular until September 1st, 1939.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    i don’t care how much kim chi this car got under the hood – at least it looks interesting to look at.  bamboo floor panes?  cool, would be nice to put bare feet down after a day at the beach.
     

  • avatar
    daviel

    Way cool looking car, IMO.  Typical Kia-hate from Ed; he still resents the Audi designer defecting!

  • avatar
    AKADriver

    There hasn’t really been a Korean national identity evident in cars precisely because the Korean auto industry didn’t come into its own until the era of globalization. Celadon paint and oak trim is just window dressing – and it’s not the sort of thing that makes German cars German or American cars American. I don’t expect an Italian car to have a Michaelangelo on the ceiling and a Coliseum-shaped instrument cluster.
    That’s not necessarily a bad thing. One of the strengths of Hyundai/Kia in particular seems to be that they’re completely un-bound by internal tradition. They can just build each car to be the best tool for the job rather than having to maintain connections to the past.

  • avatar
    CraigSu

    Well, the sunroof reminds me of a Nissan Cube’s windows laid flat.  At least it’s appropriately named (square-shaped).

  • avatar

    Newer Korean vehicles seem to be going for a “Japanese car with balls” look… sort of how I imagine Toyota would style their cars if they didn’t need to appeal to so many people and blandify their top sellers.
    By the way, does else anyone think people are going to look back on vehicles built around the 2010s as the “melted bar of soap” style? Mercedes seems to have started it with the CLS back in ’04, and since then it’s become more and more popular (VW CC, Camry, Sonata).

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