Hyundai Motor Co former R&D president Kwon Moon-sik resigning on Monday, just three months after he had quit over a string of quality problems. Hyundai also said the head of its design center, Oh Suk-geun, resigned for “personal reasons” in yet another example of the abrupt replacement of the top brass by group chairman Chung Mong-koo.
The surprise move comes as Hyundai, the world’s fifth-biggest automaker along with affiliate Kia Motors , is preparing to unveil the fully revamped version of its key model, the Sonata, in South Korea next month, followed by the United States and other markets.
Hyundai Motor, which has joint R&D operations with Kia Motors, said in November that Kwon and two other R&D executives resigned over a slew of quality problems in an unexpected gesture seen to shore up the company’s reputation.
Massive recalls in South Korea, the United States and other countries last, the United States and other countries last year, as well consumer complaints over quality issues at home, undermined the hard-earned reputation of the automaker, which had shed its image as the maker of shoddy cars.
Kwon, who formerly served as chief executives at Hyundai’s two auto electronics units, was known as a “private tutor” of Chung’s only son and heir apparent Chung Eui-sun, a media report said. Kwon reports to R&D vice chairman Yang Woong-chul. Kim Hae-jin, who had took over from Kwon in December, returned to his previous post overseeing power-train development.
Meanwhile, exterior design head Lee Byung-seob was appointed to take over Oh’s position and will report to Peter Schreyer, who was named last year to oversee both Kia and Hyundai designs. Hyundai is expected to unveil the redesigned Sonata mid-sized sedan next month in its first major makeover in more than four years.