It's the second year in a row that a Hyundai big boss has received the prestigious honor.
The World Car Awards panel awarded Hyundai's SangYup Lee the 2023 World Car Person of the Year award.
The head of the Hyundai and Genesis Global Design Center is the brain behind some groundbreaking vehicles, including the new Ioniq 6 electric vehicle, the latest iteration of the Kona, and the breathtaking N Vision 74, a hydrogen-powered concept car that takes retro design to a new level.
This is the second consecutive win for the Hyundai Motor Group, as the automaker's chief creative officer Luc Donckerwolke walked away with the achievement last year.
"Hyundai is taking on many challenges, but this is just the beginning. We believe our greatest achievements lie ahead of us," said Lee. "This honor is not the recognition of an individual but a testament to a shared collective passion for creativity encouraged by the dedication of Hyundai top management who set us high standards to achieve."
The Executive Vice President had tough competition but still won the coveted award. Finalists included Peter Rawlinson of Lucid Motors, Naoyuki Sakamoto (the chief engineer behind the incredible GR Corolla), and BMW's Dr. Stella Clarke, the woman behind the brilliant color-changing technology seen on the i Vision Dee concept car.
This award forms part of the greater World Car Of The Year competition, and the finalists include the Alfa Romeo Tonale, Nissan Z, and Hyundai Ioniq 6, to name a few.
Lee has been with the Korean automaker since 2016 but amassed plenty of experience in his previous positions. The Korean-born designer has worked for the VW Group and General Motors (he designed the fifth-generation Camaro) and even interned at Porsche and Pininfarina.
Design has always been a big part of Lee's life and led him to study automotive design at the California-based ArtCenter College after receiving a degree in fine arts.
Lee once told The Korea Times that he grew up not seeing sports cars on the road. Instead, he was surrounded by humdrum vehicles - but he said that was to his advantage. "I grew up in Korea with cars like Sephia and Elantra. I had little exposure to the world of sports cars, but that ended up working as an advantage. I had a fresh take on the old classic."
The N Vision 74 proves that Lee hasn't lost his desire to design extraordinary-looking vehicles. Former Ferrari designer Frank Stephenson was so besotted with the concept that he said he'd have one immediately if he could.
With Lee and Donckerwolke at the helm of Hyundai and Genesis design, we see increasingly beautiful vehicles on the horizon. With the absolutely bewitching Genesis X Concept rumored to be heading into production, the adage of the Hyundai building dull and undesirable cars will be long forgotten.
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