A few months ago I wrote about the German behind Hyundai’s performance division, Albert Biermann. Hyundai also had another European in its upper ranks. Belgian designer Luc Donckerwolke was hired by Hyundai in 2016 to lead design, joining the Korean company after roles at Audi, Lamborghini, and Bentley. You have Donckerwolke to thank for the Murciélago.
The first headline I read indicated that Donckerwolke was resigning “amid sales slump” which leaves it unclear if they were referring to the current coronacrisis or overall Genesis sales. Though its reported that Donckerwolke is leaving on amicable terms with no plans to go to another automaker, the fact is that Genesis cars aren’t exactly selling like hot cakes. Donckerwolke reportedly left for personal reasons and intends to spend more time with his family in Germany.
Whatever the internal discussion or real reasons for leaving, Donckerwolke brought a boldness to the Hyundai brands that got people talking. The Hyundai Sonata has gone from serviceable rental car that you don’t hate to “hey, that looks more relevant than a Honda Civic”. Genesis has positioned their marketing around “young luxury”, battling the old guard for position and being more willing to adorn surfaces with quilted leather. Thanks to Donckerwolke, the design language at the mothership overall has moved to a more European feel. In the mean time, Genesis has waged war on Lexus for who can produce the most obnoxious grill.
Hyundai has plenty of other European design talent staff to backstop Donckerwolke so we hope his legacy of bold design will continue. Thanks, Luc. Thank you for bringing Hyundai Motor Company in to the fight. Competition improves the breed.
daily automotive addiction.