Hyundai Motor unveils sweeping executive reshuffle

Ex-BMW executive is to become the first foreign head of research and development

Albert Biermann

South Korean conglomerate Hyundai Motor Group shook up its executive ranks and appointed its first foreign head of research and development, raising expectations of a smooth transition of power at the family-run business empire. The executive position is given to Group President Albert Biermann, a German former BMW executive, who will replace longtime executives Yang Woong-chul and Kwon Moon-sik. 

Biermann, the former vice president of engineering at BMW M Automobiles, joined Hyundai in 2015. As the chief of Hyundai’s performance development team, he has been also leading the N Project aimed at developing high-functioning vehicles. Three years later the company rewarded him with a president post, recognising his role in enhancing the driving dynamics of its luxury brand Genesis on par with other premium carmakers. This way he became the second foreign expert named president, after the South Korean carmaker appointed Peter Schreyer, former Audi designer, as the president of Hyundai-Kia design team.

The reshuffle, officially confirmed by Hyundai on Wednesday, is part of preparations for generational change at South Korea’s second-largest family-owned business empire, which are aimed at rejuvenating the group. As part of those efforts 17 top executives in all, were reassigned across the group including at Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp - which together form the fifth-biggest automaker in the world.

The big change also comes as Hyundai Motor Co battles to reverse falling profits as a result of US recall costs and weak sales in the US and Chinese markets.

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