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Hyundai Keeps Commitment; Welcomes Back Creative Force Luc Donckerwolke

Hyundai has kept its commitment to creative design by hiring back Luc Donckerwolke who left the company for personal reasons early in the spring. The Korean automaker needs his talents.

Hyundai Motor Group announced the appointment of Luc Donckerwolke to the new company position of chief creative officer. It's an important move as Hyundai needs to keep its design juices flowing to stay competitive.

The move comes after Donckerwolke stepped down as chief design officer in April for undisclosed health reasons. He resumes his Hyundai career as executive vice president and his office will be located at the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center in Rüsselsheim, Germany, located southeast of Frankfurt.

It’s a strategic step for the Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia brands because Donckerwolke is one of the industry’s top designers. Previously at Hyundai, when serving as chief design officer, he worked on:

  • Hyundai Kona (2017)
  • Hyundai Palisade (2018)
  • Genesis GV80 (2020)
  • Genesis G80 (2020)
  • Genesis G90 (19/2020)
  • Hyundai Sonata DN8 (2020)

All have been hugely popular with the buying public in the United States and well received by the automotive press.

Award Winning Concepts

Donckerwolke also designed two exciting concepts: the Hyundai Prophecy and Genesis Essentia. The Prophecy EV concept recently won a prestigious 2020 Red Dot Award in the Design Concept group. It was named “Best of the Best.”

Hyundai Prophecy EV concept

Prophecy is the first concept car designed by a Korean automotive brand to win the ‘Best of the Best’ design concept award. It expresses Hyundai’s new design identity: Sensuous Sportiness. It incorporates a new EV architecture defined by pristine surfaces.

As the chief creative officer, Donckerwolke will be in charge of design-related communications about topics such as Genesis brand, dedicated BEV lineup brand IONIQ and fuel cell vehicles. As chief creative officer, Luc Donckerwolke will collaborate with design centers in their development and design communication for concept vehicles of Hyundai Motor Group’s various brands.

Not Chief Design Officer

One thing the Hyundai parent company will not be doing is putting his extensive talents to use on vehicles coming to market. He was not replaced as chief design officer when he left earlier this year.

Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands’ design work will continue to be overseen by existing management. SangYup Lee, senior vice president and head of Hyundai Global Design Center and Genesis Global Design, will continue to lead design for Hyundai and Genesis brands. Karim Habib, senior vice president and head of Kia Global Design, will continue to lead design for Kia brand.

That’s a loss for the brand considering Donckerwolke, in his years at Volkswagen, had a hand in designing the Lamborghini Murciélago and the current Bentley Continental GT. Of course, this newly-created position could be just a placeholder until the company decides to fill his old position again.

Keith Griffin covers Hyundai and Kia at Torque News. He has been writing continuously about new cars since 2002. Keith used to be a researcher/writer for US News & World Report, as well as numerous car sites, including Carfax and Car Gurus, as well as a contributor to The Boston Globe. He was founder of The Internet Car and Truck of the Year, where "Internet Pros and Average Joes" picked the car and truck of the year. Most recently, Keith was the managing editor for American Business Media. Follow Keith at @indepthauto on Twitter.