Hyundai CEO Zuchowski out, interim leader tapped

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
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Hyundai Motor America said Wednesday that Dave Zuchowski, its chief executive since January 2014, is “leaving the company” and that an interim CEO has been appointed.

The Korean automaker has named W. Gerald Flannery as interim CEO “effective immediately.” It said a search for Zuchowski’s replacement will begin now.

The company declined to comment further on the surprise departure of Zuchowski, a longtime auto industry veteran. Automotive News reported that Zuchowski was fired for not meeting internal sales targets.

Hyundai’s U.S. sales are up 2.1 percent this year to 712,700 through November compared to the same time in 2015, according to Autodata Corp. Overall U.S. sales are flat compared to a year ago.

Flannery has worked for Hyundai since 1987 and handles all legal matters for the company in the U.S. He recently created Hyundai’s first safety office for North America. Hyundai said he will retain his chief legal and safety officer 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 in a statement. “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.”

Hyundai said Flannery is tasked with boosting the company’s brands, and quickening growth and customer satisfaction for the U.S. market. He previously worked for Ford Motor Co. as a senior attorney in its general counsel office.

Zuchowski was appointed by Hyundai as president and CEO effective in January 2014 after it announced in late 2013 that John Krafcik was stepping down at the end of his contract. Zuchowski joined Hyundai in 2007 from Mazda North America and previoulsy worked at Ford Motor Co.

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