FRANKFURT -- Hyundai said company veteran Hyung Cheong Kim is the new president and CEO of its European operations.
Kim, 55, moves to Europe from an executive role at Hyundai in America. He will be responsible for the "business vision" and the leading management team in Europe, Hyundai said in a statement Monday.
Kim takes over from Byung Kwon Rhim with immediate effect, as the latter moves to the company's headquarters in Seoul to head Hyundai Motors' international sales division.
Kim’s appointment is the third major reshuffling in Hyundai’s European operations in less than a year. In March, Thomas Schmid was appointed Hyundai's chief operating officer in Europe. The former head of European sales and fleet business succeeded Allan Rushforth, who became Nissan's global sales chief in October. Last year Hyundai hired Jochen Sengpiehl, a former VW manager, to run marketing in Europe, a role that Mark Hall had held before quitting in June to later become head of Land Rover in China.
After stagnating last year, Hyundai brand sales in Europe have rebounded so far this year. Its vehicle sales in the EU and EFTA gained 9.7 percent in the first quarter to 120,000 vehicles, slightly outpacing overall industry growth and giving it a steady market share of 3.3 percent, according to industry association ACEA.
Hyundai said Kim has been with the company for 29 years. He mainly worked in the international operations division, fulfilling roles in North America and at the global headquarters in Korea.
Hyundai's Korean leaders in Europe have typically not interpreted their role as a public one, preferring to let the European senior management team be the face of the brand while they focus on developing a vision for the business and serve as Europe’s chief diplomat to the Korean Headquarters.
One of Hyundai's chief tasks in Europe is to raise customer perceptions of its brand that lag the performance and build quality of its latest cars, such as the upcoming Tucson compact crossover Tucson. One former manager complained that Hyundai models performed much more favorably during customer clinics when they were shown without the logo on the hood.