The Hyundai Veloster N and Kia Stinger GT are only the beginning.
Back in 2015, Hyundai managed to poach longtime BMW M division engineering chief Albert Biermann, whose work can already be seen on new models, like the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N for example. The South Koreans want him to do for them what he helped do for BMW M. And now Biermann has received a major promotion. The automaker has just announced that Biermann is now head of Research and Development for the entire Hyundai Motor Group, the first time a non-Korean has been given the job.
What’s interesting about Hyundai is that it’s not afraid to bring in industry outsiders for major leadership positions. Prior to Biermann, Kia hired former VW designer Peter Schreyer, who was responsible for the first generation Audi TT, among other notable designs.
Schreyer is now in an advisory position because his replacement is already hard at work. Who would that be? Luc Donckerwolke, the man who once penned Bentleys and Lamborghinis. Even former Bugatti designer Sasha Selipanov is now working at Genesis. As for Biermann, not only does he deserve this promotion, but he’s also very much the right man for the job. Having proved himself with the Veloster N, i30 N, Kia Stinger, and the new Genesis G70, Biermann also helped Hyundai’s motorsport division.
It is now competing in the World Rally Championship, 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and the TCR Class of the Pirelli World Challenge. Who is the main driving force, so to speak, behind recruiting these big-time industry players? Euisun Chung, son of Hyundai Motor Group founder Mong-Koo Chung.
The younger Chung, aged 48, recently became executive vice chairman and is clearly determined to make changes where they’re needed. These corporate shake-ups are happening just as Hyundai reported its profits are down two-thirds because of recall costs in the US and weaker than expected sales in two major markets, the US and China. With Biermann and Donckerwolke now in leadership positions with significant influence, Hyundai Motor Group continues to position itself as one of the major players in the global auto industry.