KIA’S DE­SIGN IS A PROD­UCT OF GLOBAL RE­SEARCH, be­cause de­sign also needs to be adapted to and aligned with re­gional sen­si­bil­i­ties. Kia is a pi­o­neer in study­ing trend­ing de­signs and in­cor­po­rat­ing them into their cars in a func­tional man­ner. Its main de­sign stu­dio is lo­cated in Namyang, South Korea, while the satel­lite de­sign cen­tres are lo­cated in Irvine, Frank­furt and Tokyo. These cen­tres fo­cus on re­search, con­cept de­vel­op­ment, sketch­ing, clay mod­el­ling, er­gonomics and sur­face de­vel­op­ment. But what sets apart the home turf in South Korea is its sheer size and cut­tingedge tech­nol­ogy.

The Namyang De­sign cen­tre spans over 3.3 mil­lion square me­tres with fa­cil­i­ties for ev­ery­thing from plan­ning and con­cep­tu­al­is­ing to bring­ing Kia de­signs to life. It also has a de­sign and de­vel­op­ment cen­tre for pow­er­trains with plenty of test tracks. At the cli­matic test­ing cen­tre, en­gi­neers can play god and make it rain or snow at will. The highlight of this R&D and de­sign cen­tre, though, is the USD 45 mil­lion aero-acoustic wind tunnel. Span­ning 8.4 me­tres, the fan gen­er­ates wind speeds of up to 200kmph and is acous­ti­cally damped in or­der to measure wind noise around the door mir­rors and A-pil­lars.

The satel­lite de­sign stu­dios in Frank­furt and Orange County, Cal­i­for­nia also cover the en­tire process of car de­sign rang­ing from de­sign plan­ning and de­sign con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion to styling, mod­el­ling and colour and ma­te­rial de­vel­op­ment. These cen­tres an­a­lyse global trends and ex­plore the dis­tinct life­styles in lo­cal mar­kets around the world, which will be crucial while de­vel­op­ing the mid-SUV for In­dia. The cen­tre in Ger­many is the first de­sign fa­cil­ity that is in­de­pen­dent of sis­ter com­pany Hyundai, and is a bold step for­ward in Kia es­tab­lish­ing it­self as an in­di­vid­ual and in­flu­en­tial brand. It did, after all, give us the Stinger. Mean­while the Cal­i­for­nia de­sign cen­tre has played a vi­tal role in carv­ing the brand’s suc­cess story in USA.

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