New Hyundai Design Chief’s Three Big Challenges

Simon Loasby

Simon Loasby

As challenges go, these are biggies.

Simon Loasby’s key role will be to further develop Sensuous Sportiness – Hyundai’s new design identity. He will also play a pivotal role in deciding exactly how Hyundai cars will look in the future. And if that is not enough, he needs to sustain and grow Hyundai’s global SUV campaign.

The new Head of Styling is a British automotive design veteran with 25 years’ experience, until recently Head of Hyundai Motor China Design. Loasby’s promotion emphasises the importance of the Chinese market for Hyundai. At China Design, he was key to revitalising the brand in that huge market. His work included the sporty China-specific LaFesta, the Santa Fe MPV and the new ix25 SUV.

Before joining Hyundai in 2017, Loasby spent almost a decade with Volkswagen in China, developing design concepts for Volkswagen and Skoda. After a Master’s Degree in design and studying mechanical engineering in the ‘90s, Loasby made his mark at Rolls-Royce with the Silver Seraph, and Bentley with the Arnage and the Continental GT. He moved to Volkswagen AG when Volkswagen bought Bentley in 1998.

The Sensuous Sportiness design language was first showcased with the Le Fil Rouge concept car in Geneva in 2018. This sporty, muscular look is personified in the just-released 2020 Sonata (not available in SA). The crux of Sensuous Sportiness is to harmonise the driver’s emotional values with an optimal combination of proportion, structure, style, and technology. In other words, looks great and works perfectly.

But automotive design is a quicksilver changing environment, and Loasby defines his challenge thus: “OK, where does that take us next? 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?” Time will tell, probably with the next generation Sonata, due in about five years.

But what will the next Sonata be? “Do we need conventional sedans anymore?” asks Loasby. “A serious question: How many more petrol-engine, diesel-engine cars do we need?” According to Loasby, the next generation of cars will include ‘new energy’ electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. It is also inevitable that they will incorporate cutting edge technologies, such as autonomous driving, robotics and drones.

His third role is here and now, leading Hyundai’s vital global SUV campaign, refining current models and developing new ones. SUVs make up the largest car segment, with nearly 40% of car sales worldwide. Hyundai’s current SUV range includes the Tucson, Santa Fe, Creta and KONA, all available in South Africa.

In addition to these challenges, Loasby will continue to support Hyundai China Design with his Chinese market expertise.

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