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Hyundai Woos Top GM designer

Could imports tap Big 3 troubles and steal Detroit's best?

by on Apr.03, 2009

Veteran GM Designer Phil Zak, shown here with his '05 Chevrolet Cobalt, is moving to Hyundai.

GM Designer Phil Zak, with his 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, is moving to Hyundai.

General Motors has lost another top designer to a Korean competitor. Hyundai America Technical Center has announced that Phillip Zak has been named chief designer of the Hyundai Design Center in Irvine, California.  Zak will be responsible for new vehicle and concept design for Hyundai, officials for the Korean automaker said.

Though design departments have been among the most protected operations in Detroit, the domestic industry’s ongoing problems – and the appeal of the new – threaten to lead to a brain drain from Detroit’s styling studios, industry observers caution.

“Phillip’s strong experience in working across multiple regions and his leadership role on advanced projects was exactly what we were looking for,” said C.K. Park, president, HATCI.  “We are thrilled to have Phillip Zak as chief designer for Hyundai and continue the strong momentum of our vehicle designs.”

Zak has more than 20 years of automotive design experience at GM and most recently served as the design director for General Motors Europe where he was responsible for all Opel and Saab exterior production design work and future strategies.  Zak started his career at General Motors in 1988 as a designer sketching new vehicle concepts.  During his 20-year career at General Motors he held various positions including lead designer, chief designer and design manager.

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