Hyundai Designer Enjoys Lack of Filter

Hyundai’s U.S. interior-design manager chats with WardsAuto about his relatively limitless company, the interiors of his favorite Hyundai and non-Hyundai models, and why dealers impact how flashy the interior of your next vehicle may be.

May 18, 2016

5 Min Read
Hyundai US Interior Design Manager Andrew Moir
Hyundai U.S. Interior Design Manager Andrew Moir.

Andrew Moir joined Hyundai in 2004 after a stint at Mercedes-Benz and since 2013 has been design manager for interiors at the automaker’s North American studio in Irvine, CA. Moir and his team are responsible for some memorable recent concepts, including last year’s stunning Vision G and the N2025 Vision Gran Turismo. On the production side, he also had a hand in crafting the interiors of the new Ioniq green-car lineup and the recently released Tucson CUV.

In this edited Q&A, we chat with Andrew on the sidelines of the recent WardsAuto Interiors Conference on a variety of topics, including why Americans probably won’t be able to buy a car with a purple interior anytime soon.

WardsAuto: About 12 years ago you left Mercedes to join Hyundai. Why did you decide to leave an established automaker for a relative new kid on the block?

Moir: At the time the Mercedes studio in California was very small. I had been working in Germany and came back and all of a sudden the world got a lot smaller. I knew some people who worked (at the Hyundai studio) and they were doing a lot of production work. Even at that point a lot of the cars on the road had been coming from that studio. So it was an interesting opportunity. It was also an interesting opportunity to try and create something. You know Mercedes is very established. You have lots of opportunity there to do something different, but it always goes through the filter of “Is it a Mercedes?”, whereas at Hyundai there was no filter.

WardsAuto: How big is your team out in California?

Moir: The total design team we have is about 40 people, including modelers and designers and color and materials (specialists). The interior team we have right now is about eight people. We’ve got myself and a second manager and six designers.

WardsAuto: And how does that compare to Hyundai’s global R&D studio in Namyang, South Korea?

Moir: Oh Namyang’s huge. They’ve got three teams of interior designers for Hyundai, plus they’ve got a separate team for Genesis now.

WardsAuto: Does it feel a bit like David vs. Goliath when you have a concept you want to present, or is it a very collaborative process?

Moir: No, we work with them and against them. All of the designs are done in competition, so we have a studio in Germany, we have us, there’s a studio in Japan…we’re always competing against a different studio. We’ll make our best effort at it, they’ll make their best effort and we present them and they select a winner.

WardsAuto: What’s been a favorite interior you’ve had a hand in since you joined Hyundai?

Moir: Last summer we did the Genesis Vision G, which we showed at Pebble Beach. That was pretty cool.

WardsAuto: Which has informed the design of the Genesis production models, correct?

Moir: Right. It was related to the production interior from the G90 that was introduced in Detroit. We also had a big hand at the early stage in the Ioniq interior, so that was pretty exciting trying to come up with new form language for an electric car.

WardsAuto: What is the path forward for Hyundai interiors? We saw very showy interiors to match the Fluidic Sculpture look and now there’s a bit more restraint occurring.

Moir: Our goal with Fluidic Sculpture cars was to make a big statement and get noticed, and we did a fantastic job doing that. We really made a strong statement that resonated in the market. The goal with the current-generation cars was to take what we’ve learned with those and make them better. So really dive into the interior, getting consistent HMI and controls. Our Fluidic Sculpture cars were a little bit different when you got in one model to the next. Each made their own strong, unique statement, which was really cool, but it also didn’t make a strong statement about what a Hyundai was when you sat in it.

The goal with the current-generation cars was to make a stronger statement about what a Hyundai is. When you get in a Hyundai, this is how you use it. This knob is here and it’s always going to be there. That and really improving the craftsmanship (were goals). The craftsmanship on the current batch of cars is significantly better than the previous generation. So (the goals were to make our interiors) more premium, more organized, better craftsmanship and easier to use.

WardsAuto: We hear a lot about vibrant color and wacky materials like denim and coffee-derived composites as being the next frontier of interior design, but how feasible is all that for production?

Moir: Anything is feasible. It’s whether you can get the – it’s not even the supply lines making it, it’s the supply lines for selling it. Whether you can get dealers in the U.S. to stock it? That’s the problem.

If you look at cars in Europe you’ve got a huge variety of options you can order. You can order a yellow car with a purple interior if you want. But you’re going to wait three months for them to build the car. Americans like to drive to the lot and then drive home the same day. I’m not from the States (and) the first time I ever bought a car from a dealer here I was shocked, because it was a Sunday afternoon and we walked into the dealer just looking at cars and we ended up being able to drive home with the car that day. I wasn’t expecting to be doing that.

So that is what limits the denim interiors and the funky colors, because the dealers want to be able to trade the cars…They’ll keep one funky one that maybe draws people in, (but) if you’ve got the bright yellow car with the purple interior, that thing’s going to sit there for months and it’s costing them money, whereas in Europe that car isn’t costing anyone money because it hasn’t been built unless someone orders it. So that’s the big limiter.

WardsAuto: What’s an interior you wish you had a hand in designing, current or classic car?

Moir: Well I gotta say there’s some beautiful ’60s Ferraris, like a (Pininfarina-designed 250 GT Berlinetta) Lusso.

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