Foreigners spearhead Genesis evolution
In the annual reshuffle announced on Monday, the group running the country’s two auto giants - Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors - said a total of 368 executives have been promoted; 191 in the two car makers and 177 from other affiliates such as Hyundai Mobis, a parts maker.
“The number of promoted executives is about 15 percent less than a year ago,” a Hyundai Motor spokesman said. “It reflects our management road map for next year that aims to stabilize the inside corporate structures and to give promotions to employees based on their performances, which is necessary under the slumping economy.”
In Monday’s reshuffle, Hyundai Motor Group clearly showed its determination to make the Genesis a leading luxe car brand that can compete with global companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
After rolling out the Genesis brand’s flagship EQ900 sedan earlier this month, the company announced it hired former Bentley designer Luc Donckerwolke as the head of the Hyundai Design Center to work with Peter Schreyer, the design chief of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors. The company also hired Manfred Fitzgerald, former Lamborghini director of brand and design, as the senior vice president for the Genesis brand strategy department.
“Fitzgerald greatly contributed to the growth of the Lamborghini brand,” a Hyundai Motor spokesman said. “He will direct overall marketing strategies and promotion events, as well as advertisement work, and he will also work on finding competitive dealers worldwide for the Genesis, just like he did for Lamborghini.”
The two new foreign executives will also cooperate with Albert Biermann, whom the automaker’s vice chairman, Chung Eui-sun, personally scouted from BMW last year to develop high-performance cars.
As part of improving overall product quality for Genesis and lineups for Hyundai and Kia, the group promoted 158 people in the R&D and auto IT divisions, which accounts for about 42.9 percent of this year’s reshuffle.
The most noticeable name in the list is well-known transmissions expert Park Jong-sool, who has more than 200 patents registered on transmissions parts. Park was named chief researcher of the automaker for his contributions in improving Hyundai technologies, including the dual clutch transmission system.
Hyundai has placed high hopes on the new foreign executives and engineers such as Park, as they will be responsible for the launch of the Genesis brand. Hyundai launched the luxe brand to improve its profitability while overall sales of the two auto giants are predicted to taper off in the future, mainly due to fierce competition and the slumping economy in China.
Hyundai Motor Group said in January that it aims to sell 8.2 million cars this year, but the possibility is high that it will not reach that target. Analysts have been saying that Hyundai needs to find a solution that can improve its business structure, which currently relies on low-profit-making small cars in the global market.
BY KWON SANG-SOO [email@example.com]