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Management Shake-up as Hyundai Ousts U.S. CEO Zuchowski

Ouster doesn’t directly address an off-kilter model mix.

by on Dec.21, 2016

Hyundai's Dave Zuchowski, shown at the launch of the 2015 Sonata, spent three years as U.S. CEO.

Dave Zuchowski, the widely respected CEO of Hyundai Motor America has been summarily ousted by the company’s Korean headquarters.

The departure of the long-time Hyundai executive, who was named CEO in 2013, comes at a time when Hyundai has lost some of its momentum in the American market – though various industry observers said they question how much blame can be ascribed to Zuchowski considering he has long been pressing to flesh out Hyundai’s slim line-up of light trucks at a time they are gaining momentum while traditional passenger cars falter.

We'll Tell You the Full Story!

Hyundai representatives had no immediate comment on the news beyond the announcement that Jerry Flannery, currently HMA’s executive vice president and general counsel, will step in, at least temporarily, as Zuchowski’s replacement.


Ex-Hyundai CEO Krafcik Named New TrueCar President

Unexpected move comes as Web service prepares for IPO.

by on May.02, 2014

John Krafcik is no longer just a board member at TrueCar, he's added the title of President.

John Krafcik, former Hyundai Motor America President and CEO, has been named the President of TrueCar, the automotive sales and data website that is preparing for a stock offering.

The announcement ends speculation about the future of Krafcik, who left Hyundai in December after the South Korean automaker declined to renew his contract. Because of the talent he demonstrated while leading Hyundai’s American operations through a period of rapid growth, speculation about Krafcik’s future has been intense at times.

Breaking News!

Krafcik himself told that he was considering “a number of opportunities” during a brief conversation at the New York Auto Show in April. (more…)

Update: Hyundai Hoping to Avert Strike That Could Scuttle its Record Sales Goal

Workers demanding shorter hours, share of profits.

by on Jul.13, 2012

Supplies of Korean-made Hyundai products, such as this Elantra GT, could dry up if workers strike.

This story has been updated to reflect new developments in Korea and comments by Hyundai officials in the U.S.

Hyundai Motor America is likely to lose market share in 2012 even as it takes aim at another all-time annual sales record. The problem, cautions CEO John Krafcik, is that the maker is reaching the limits of its global capacity, compounded by constraints at its plant in Alabama.

Potentially making the situation worse is the threat of a strike by 45,000 workers at Hyundai’s Korean operations — though on Friday those employees agreed to resume negotiations with the maker over a variety of demands.

“It would be difficult” for Hyundai especially in the U.S., if workers strike, Krafcik told on Friday.  So, “We certainly hope it gets resolved.”

Plug In on Auto News!

So do investors who had been driving down Hyundai’s share price in recent days fearing the maker might be hit with its first walkout since 2008.  Earlier this week, 70% of the members of the maker’s traditionally militant union voted in favor of staging a strike if demands aren’t met.  Key on that list are reduced working hours and increased wages.

Workers at Kia, the smaller Korean carmaker controlled by Hyundai also approved a strike if demands aren’t met.


Hyundai, Kia Expect Slower Growth in 2012

But sales still likely to top 7 million, says top exec.

by on Jan.04, 2012

Despite strong demand for products like the Elantra, Hyundai expects its growth to slow in 2012.

It’s been a whirlwind for Korean carmakers, Hyundai and Kia both posting double-digit global growth in 2011 as they’ve landed one successful new product after another.  But senior company officials warn that the Korean powerhouse likely can’t keep that torrid pace going in 2012.

It’s not that the days of sales growth are over, but Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Moon-koo says the maker has to focus on other things – like quality – rather than growth alone.

In the Know!

“We will strengthen quality management we have continuously pursued,” the 73-year-old executive declared during a New Year’s speech to Hyundai/Kia employees.

Nonetheless, Hyundai and sibling Kia don’t expect to just tread water in 2012.  Chung expects to record a 6% increase for the company, now the world’s fifth-largest automaker, which would push its global volume to 7 million.


Sales on a Record Track, Hyundai Looks Forward into the Past

Maker wants to be sure it can maintain momentum before committing to 2nd U.S. assembly plant.

by on Sep.22, 2011

Hyundai CEO John Krafcik.

The purple seats simply had to go.

There was a time when Korean managers thought that whatever would sell in the home market would be fine with U.S. buyers, including an array of funky paint and fabric colors — at least, as long as the price was low enough.  But then Hyundai went into freefall.

Today, U.S. market demands are clearly being taken seriously by Hyundai Motor Co., the maker’s California-based design center playing a serious role in the development of such new vehicles as the quirky 3-door Veloster and i30 – which will soon reach the States as the Elantra Touring.

Its Free!

If anything, expect the U.S. to gain an even more significant role in making key decisions, suggests Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik, because America has lately become Hyundai’s biggest market, a trend likely to continue as the maker surges from one U.S. sales record to another.

Barring an unforeseen and unlikely setback during the final 100 days of 2011, Hyundai is on a path to nip the 600,000 sales mark, up from a record 540,000 last year.  In fact, the biggest problem the maker seems to have right now is getting enough vehicles to meet U.S. demand, especially for products like the compact Elantra and midsize Sonata.


Hyundai Aims For Half-Million Sales This Year

Korean maker now using lower incentives than Toyota, Honda.

by on Oct.06, 2010

Hyundai is betting demand for the Sonata will only increase with the launch of new turbo and hybrid models in the coming months.

Hyundai expects its sales to exceed 500,000 units for the first time this year with the help from strong sales of the red-hot Sonata.

The percentage of consumers considering a Hyundai product is steadily increasing, according to John Krafcik, Hyundai Motors America president and chief executive officer. The percentage of light vehicle intenders looking for a Hyundai was only 7% at the end of 2000. Today, that has risen to 33%, Krafcik said.

“We’ll set an all-time sales record this year, passing 500,000 units,” he added, noting the increase in sales has been paced by the successful launch of the Sonata, which is winning buyers in the highly competitive mid-sized car segment.

Covering The Beat!

In fact for the four-month period from May through August, the Sonata was the top model shopped market-wide, Krafcik said, citing various industry data.

Hyundai’s market share has continued to grow, he added.  The South Korean automaker’s overall market share is currently 4.8%, more than twice that of Mazda and ahead of Volkswagen, as well.  The expansion has been based a steady growth at the retail level not through fleet sales like some of its competitors.


Hyundai to Build New Headquarters in California

Current Fountain Valley Site will be refurbished. Lucky land?

by on Sep.16, 2010

The fifth largest auto company in the world expands again.

Hyundai Motor America confirmed yesterday that it will invest $150 million in a new North American headquarters on the site of its current complex in Fountain Valley, California.

The announcement came after a meeting between California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hyundai Motor Company Chairman Mong-Koo Chung, who heads the fifth largest auto company in the world.

Orange County – where Fountain Valley is – has been Hyundai’s home since its arrival in the United States in 1985. Hyundai will invest about $150 million, the largest investment ever made by Hyundai in the state.

During the approximately two-year project, it is estimated that as many as 1,530 new construction jobs will be created with a $273 million total economic output, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

It will also double the space of the current headquarters and provide room to double the growing  auto company’s corporate staff to about 1,400 employees, according to John Krafcik, chief executive of Hyundai Motor America.

“We think this is the best place to plan and design our vehicles. It is still a center of innovation for North America,” Krafcik said.


Q&A: Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik

Staying hungry to stay ahead.

by on Feb.19, 2010

Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik reveals the new Sonata at the LA Auto Show, last November.

You’ll find John Krafcik out running, every morning, before he sits down with the reporters gathering in San Diego for this week’s launch of the all-new, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.  “Stay humble, stay hungry,” is a favorite phrase for the lean and trim CEO of the Korean maker’s fast-growing U.S. subsidiary, and it’s one that informs the way he runs both his life and his company.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Hyundai was the butt of jokes for late-night comics, a company struggling to just hang on in the hotly competitive U.S. market.  But things have shifted dramatically as the maker has rebuilt its product line and its image, reversing a long-standing reputation for bland design, boring products and questionable quality.

Market share jumped from 3.0% to 4.2% last year – amidst a downturn during which Hyundai was one of only three brands to actually grow volume – but 2010 will be the real test of Hyundai’s turnaround.

(Click Here for the results of a new study revealing Hyundai, Ford making significant gains in share, loyalty and more.)    (more…)