Hyundai Motor has reassigned a number of top executives across the group, with the highlight being the appointment of Albert Biermann, ex-BMW M exec and the man responsible for the Kia Stinger and Hyundai’s N high-performance lineup, as the group’s Head of Research and Development.
Biermann will replace Yang Woong-chul and Kwon Moon-sik and become the first foreign chief of R&D in Hyundai, signifying a fresh new direction for the Korean car maker. Biermann joined Hyundai in 2015, after serving in BMW as the VP of engineering in the M Division.
In total, Hyundai Motor reassigned 17 executives across the group, which includes Hyundai and Kia. The move follows Euisun Chung’s appointment as executive vice chairman. Chung is believed to become the group’s next chairman, a position currently held by his father, Mong-Koo Chung.
Chung is planning to restructure the Korean car maker in a bid to deal with decreasing profits and slow sales in key markets like China and the US. Hyundai Motor also wants to strengthen its position against rivals in future technologies, such as autonomous driving and ride-sharing.
“The reshuffle signals that the junior Chung is tightening his grip on the conglomerate, a move which raises investors’ hopes for change,” said Kim Joon-sung, an analyst at Meritz Securities, to Reuters.
Another person familiar with the matter said that the executive reshuffle was “part of a generational change (the junior) Chung is pushing for.”
Last October, Hyundai appointed former BMW executive Thomas Schemera as head of product planning for autonomous cars, connected and electrified vehicles. Luc Donckerwolke was also appointed head of Design at Hyundai and Kia.