Hyundai picks former Russia boss to head Europe unit
Hyundai Motor Co. has appointed company veteran Byung Kwon Rhim to head its growing operations in Europe. Rhim, 52, previously served as Hyundai Russia president and has held several marketing positions within Europe. He also headed the Europe division at Hyundai's headquarters in Korea.
The South Korean national succeeded Tak Uk Im as Hyundai Europe president and CEO effective Jan. 9. Im will return to the company's global headquarters in Korea as head of the international operations division.
Rhim will be based at the company's Europe headquarters near Frankfurt.
Byung Kwon Rhim will head Hyundai's operations in Europe.
Europe has been one of the main contributors to Hyundai's global growth. Sales in Europe grew by 10 percent to 444,000 units last year, outperforming global deliveries, which rose 9 percent to 4.4 million, the company said.
In the statement about the personnel moves, Rhim said: "The current European economic situation is very challenging and we expect this to continue. Therefore we will focus on building our brand image and enhancing the quality of our operations through programs that make a real difference for the customer."
With Europe likely headed for its seventh straight year of industrywide decline, Hyundai has already re-evaluated its mid-term sales goals in the region. The company had targeted a 5 percent Europe market share in 2015, but Allan Rushforth, Hyundai Europe's chief operating officer, told Reuters last September that the automaker is pushing that goal back a year. "The market decline exceeded our expectations," Rushforth said.
From January to November 2012, Hyundai increased its market share in Europe to 3.4 percent from 2.9 percent in the same period a year before, according to data from industry association ACEA.
Hyundai sells cars in 28 European countries across 2,500 outlets.
Global growth in 2013
In a New Year's speech given in Seoul on Jan. 3, Hyundai Chairman and CEO Mong-Koo Chung said the company expects 2013 market conditions to be "very tough due to the ongoing European financial crisis and global economic downturn."
Nevertheless, he said he expects to global sales at Hyundai and affiliate Kia's to increase by 4 percent to 7.41 million.
In 2012, Hyundai-Kia sold 7.12 million units globally. This year Hyundai brand sales are expected to grow to 4.66 million, up from 4.4 million in 2012, while Kia deliveries will grow to 2.75 million from 2.72 last year.
Chung added that the company needs to focus on securing competitiveness for the future through qualitative growth. "To achieve our sales target of 7.41 million units in 2013, we should more proactively respond to changes in the market through close cooperation within our global network," Chung said.
Chung added that Hyundai and Kia need to reinforce cooperation between production and sales operations, while bolstering communication and cooperation with partners, including parts makers and dealers.
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