How You Make a Kia: Step 1. Design

October 9th, 2019 by

How do you make a Kia? In other words, what does it take to design and manufacture a Kia vehicle with an average of 30,000 unique parts? Over the next five weeks, we are going to show you how Kia Motors designs, tests and brings vehicles to market. There are five main steps in the production process and we will tackle a different one each week.

  1. Design
  2. Engineering
  3. Test
  4. Production
  5. Road Driving Test
    kia design


This video will give you a glimpse of what goes on behind the curtain at Kia Motors Worldwide and an overview of the five stages of design and production. Each week, we will delve a bit deeper.

First, we will look at the design process. Kia Motors has three design centers.

  • Nam yang Design Center
    Kia’s main design center in Nam yang, Korea handles all aspects of car design ranging from conceptualization, design, styling, modeling, color & material development.

Satellite design centers in the U.S. and Europe analyze global trends and explore distinct lifestyles in various parts of the world.

  • Europe Design Center
    Located in Frankfurt, Germany creates both concept cars of the future and production models for both Europe and the global market. Its designs have helped to change perceptions of the Kia brand.
  • U.S. Design Center
    Kia’s U.S. design center is located in Irvine, California and has produced both concept and production models.

Step 1. Designing

There are six unique phases to the design process.

  • Sketch & Rendering
    Research and concepts are substantiated through idea sketching.
  • Tape Drawing
    A full-size sketch is created on an upright surface using black photographic tape.
  •  Digital CAS Modeling
    The design is recreated through a computer-generated 3D whose data is then used for assessing the design and aerodynamics.
  • VR Model Review
    Virtual reality technology is used to review a design from multiple perspectives and inform design direction.
  • 1:1 Clay Scale Modeling
    A life-size model of the car is made by a 5-axis CNC milling machine and then finished by the precision hands of professional modelers. Clay Modeling
  • Emotional Design
    A diverse range of color options is developed to best match the design. The precise color palette is based on extensive analysis of cars and consumer preferences.

The overall design process for a vehicle averages from two to five years. In 2006, Kia lured Peter Schreyer from Audi to be its Chief Design Officer. Under his command, Kia has undergone perhaps the biggest brand transformation in automotive history. The K900, Soul, and Stinger are among his notable accomplishments. Schreyer was promoted to one of the President positions; Luc Donkerwolke was promoted to head design operations for both Hyundai and Kia; and Kia’s new Chief Design Officer is Karim Habib, who made a name for himself at Mercedes, BMW and Infiniti.

Next Week: Step 2: Engineering