FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. – Hyundai Motor America today announced that President and CEO Dave Zuchowski is leaving the company. The automaker said in its press release that the announcement was part of a “continuation of a reorganization that began late this year.”
In the interim, the automaker’s North American operations will be led by W. Gerald (Jerry) Flannery, who has been with Hyundai since 1987 and is responsible for all legal matters in the U.S. market as chief legal and safety officer — a role he will retain as he assumes Zuchowski’s duties.
“We appreciate Dave’s decade of service to Hyundai, especially his leadership as president and CEO, which has made us a stronger organization,” Flannery said. “I look forward to working closely with our dealers, affiliates, senior management and our talented and hard-working employees across the country to realize Hyundai’s full potential.”
According to the Hyundai’s announcement, Flannery’s immediate focus will be enhancing the company’s brands, accelerating change for growth and customer satisfaction opportunities in the U.S. market. It also noted that a search for Zuchowski’s replacement will begin immediately.
Flannery, according to the announcement, has been instrumental in leading the company through periods of rapid change and positioning it for steady growth. Recently, he created Hyundai’s first safety office in North America. Previously, Flannery was a senior attorney in the office of the general counsel at Ford Motor Co.
Hyundai’s announcement comes 20 days after the automaker reported record November sales, a month in which it increased sales 4% from a year ago to 62,507 units. Through November, the automaker had sold 712,700 units, up from 698,202 units in the prior-year period. However, total car sale through November were down 13.7%, while total light truck sales were up 22.9%.
Zuchowski’s departure also comes more than a month after the automaker announced the spinoff of Genesis as a separate luxury brand.
This isn’t the first time the automaker has announced the abrupt departure of a leading executive. On Dec. 27, 2013, the company surprised the automotive world by announcing that former CEO John Krafcik, who is credited with spearheading Hyundai’s transformation into a major brand in the U.S. market, was stepping down.
Krafcik joined TrueCar as president about four months later, then left the online shopping service to join Google’s self-driving car project in September 2015. Google announced this month that it is spinning out that project to become a company called Waymo. It is being headed by Krafcik.