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After Hyundai’s American division canned former CEO David Zuchowski for failing to fulfill inside gross sales targets final December, it’s no thriller what Job One is for the brand new man.

Kyung Soo Lee, a 61-year-old veteran of the corporate who began his profession again in 1982, takes the helm of a troubled ship subsequent week, Hyundai introduced Thursday. As president and CEO, Lee (Kenny to his buddies) is answerable for reversing a dismal gross sales pattern that sunk his predecessor, in addition to the corporate’s U.S. fortunes.

Lengthy gone are the rosy days following the recession, the place Hyundai Motor America recorded skyrocketing gross sales progress as its rivals had been nonetheless struggling to seek out their toes. Sadly, with too many vehicles and never sufficient hot-selling utility automobiles, the tide started handing over 2013. Progress that 12 months was poor, and the years following noticed the corporate’s gross sales trajectory comply with that of an ice-laden jetliner with one engine set at idle.

By means of August, the automaker’s 2017 U.S. gross sales are down 21 p.c. The shopping for public’s speedy shift to vehicles, crossovers and SUVs caught the corporate off guard, and plans had been afoot to treatment the paltry SUV lineup even earlier than Zuchowski was ushered out the door. Plans, it needs to be famous, that’ll take time to return to fruition.

No matter what is likely to be maintaining Hyundai execs up at evening, the corporate’s public face is one among confidence and guarded optimism.

“Mr. Lee has an in-depth understanding of Hyundai Motor’s international operation, following practically 20 years in various markets all over the world, together with the U.S., Europe and Latin America,” stated Gained-hee Lee, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Firm, in an announcement. (As of September 18th, interim CEO Jerry Flannery returns to his publish as the corporate’s government vice chairman, amongst different duties.)

It’s clear that Lee, who Hyundai calls “probably the most revered leaders” in its international operation, is aware of precisely what’s anticipated of him.

“I’m honored and motivated to have been chosen to guide Hyundai Motor America in probably the most fascinating occasions within the automotive trade’s historical past and to reinvigorate momentum within the strategically vital U.S. market,” stated Lee in an announcement, including, “Now we have vital alternatives forward of us.”

Lee may simply as simply changed “alternatives” with “challenges.” Certainly, there are lots of.

2018 Hyundai Kona front - Image: Hyundai

With Chinese language consumers turning away from the model for geopolitical causes, Hyundai wants a robust exhibiting in historically sturdy markets. Nonetheless, in Might of this 12 months, sister division Kia outsold Hyundai for the primary time in America. The refreshed 2018 Sonata midsize sedan, whereas extra enticing than its predecessor, faces an all-new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in a shrinking phase. A hoped-for uptick in gross sales has but to materialize.

Sending extra sedans to fleet prospects and boosting incentives has helped transfer among the stock backlog, however it’s slicing into the automaker’s income. In the meantime, sellers have gotten irritated with the corporate’s gross sales ways.

On the bottom, the corporate faces rail-related distribution points that proceed to at the present time.

What Hyundai must prop up its U.S. operations is extra utility automobiles. The Zuchowski-era plan requires a revamp of the model’s present crossovers, plus the addition of latest fashions. The small Kona crossover arrives in early 2018 to attain some gross sales within the subcompact phase, whereas a long-rumored pickup truck has lastly been given a inexperienced gentle — although once we’ll see it, and what kind it can take, stays a thriller.

It will likely be an fascinating first few months on the job for Lee.

[Images: Hyundai]

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