Hyundai Group Design Head Luc Donckerwolke Resigns After Four Years With The Company

He was responsible for the brands' major design shift these past few years

Luc Donckerwolke was with Volkswagen Group for 22 years before heading up Hyundai design. [Photo: Hyundai Group]

Hyundai, Genesis and Kia chief design officer Luc Donckerwolke left his position Wednesday, in a surprise move reported by Automotive News, among others. The 54-year-old designer originally joined Hyundai Group as the head of Hyundai and Genesis design back in January 2016. In October 2018, he became global design chief for Hyundai, Genesis and Kia brands, replacing Peter Schreyer as he left Kia design.

An internal note AutoNews cites claims Donckerwolke left for personal reasons. Reports suggest he left the company on amicable terms, and does not currently plan to join another design team. “It’s been an honor and privilege to contribute to the shaping of the future of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis. Their audacious and progressive attitude has allowed me to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo,” he said. Car and Driver reports that Hyundai and Genesis design will be led by SangYup Lee in Donckerwolke’s absence, while Kia’s design is under the leadership of Karim Habib. Hyundai Group reportedly has no immediate plans to replace Donckerwolke with a new design head.

Before Hyundai Group, Donckerwolke had a hand in some significant cars

Back in 1992, Luc Donckerwolke joined Audi’s design team after studying car design in Switzerland and interning at French automaker Peugeot. From there, he would go on to work in the department that designed the original Audi TT (under Peter Schreyer, when he was at Audi). In 1994, he landed at Czech manufacturer Škoda before landing back at Audi. He became chief designer at Lamborghini in 1998.

The Lamborghini Murciélago? That was a Luc Donckerwolke design.

In that post, he was the man responsible for the Murciélago, which some argue as the last “pure” Lamborghini developed as VW Group entered the equation. From working on that car as well as final versions of the Diablo and Gallardo, Donckerwolke went onto Spanish automaker SEAT, also under VW’s wing. He moved to VW Group’s Advanced Design team in 2011, then went to Bentley a year later before leaving the company in 2015 and landing at Hyundai and Genesis.

Donckerwolke designed several new Hyundai models, including the Palisade three-row crossover. [Photo: Hyundai]

And to say he’s had a strong hand in the company’s current design language would be an understatement. He’s left his mark on several striking new models, including the Palisade crossover, the new Sonata and Elantra, as well as the upcoming Tucson. He also helped pen concepts like the Le Fil Rogue and the Prophecy — the latter of which is actually set to go into production as a full electric car.

Concepts are where designers really go berserk, and that was certainly the case with the Genesis Essentia concept. [Photo: Genesis]

Then there’s Genesis, where he oversaw the brand’s evolution into a luxury competitor to the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The new G80 and G90 sedans, the GV80 crossover, the Essentia and Mint concepts are all examples of his design language with that brand.