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[News Focus] Chung Euisun moving Hyundai Motor Group toward future mobility
New chairman of world’s fifth-largest automotive company symbolizes younger, aggressive entrepreneurship
Published : Oct 14, 2020 - 18:15
Updated : Oct 14, 2020 - 18:22
Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun (Hyundai Motor)

Chung Euisun, who took the helm of the country’s No. 1 automotive company, Hyundai Motor Group, Wednesday, has shown strong and progressive leadership over the past two years.

Born in 1970 as the only son of Hyundai Group leader Chung Mong-koo, who is now honorary chairman, Chung Euisun majored in business administration at Korea University before entering group affiliate Hyundai Precision and Industries, now Hyundai Mobis, in 1994.

Chung Euisun has since accumulated experience in various sectors, including sales and business strategy planning. He led Hyundai Mobis as vice chairman and Kia Motors as president, before his appointment as vice chairman of Hyundai Motor in 2009.

During his tenure at Kia Motors, Chung Euisun achieved a turnaround for the company, which previously had a poor sales record, by scouting renowned car designer Peter Schreyer of Volkswagen Group fame. This resulted in growth for Kia Motors, which refreshed its brand with new designs.

The new chairman is also acclaimed for his work to launch the luxury spinoff brand Genesis in 2015.

Chung Euisun took charge of the brand from the very early stages of its development, and sales of the recently released Genesis GV80 and G80 models now surpass those of rival luxury vehicles from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Chung, who turns 50 on Sunday, is expected to add a fresh vibe to the group, considering previous breaks from convention that were perceived as exceptional for a conglomerate chief.

Since his appointment as executive vice chairman in 2018, Chung has worked to advance his vision of transforming the company from an automobile manufacturer into a future mobility solution provider.

The new chairman has expanded the company’s business to various new technological fields, including autonomous driving, electrification, hydrogen fuel cells, robotics and urban air mobility, Hyundai Motor Group said.

His aspirations for a new future also shone through in his inauguration speech, addressed to executives and employees on Wednesday, when he surprised many by mentioning his late great-uncle Chung Se-yung and cousin Chung Mong-gyu, now chairman of HDC Hyundai Development Company after inheriting it from Chung Se-yung.

“Our group has the potential to create surprising outcomes even in difficult situations,” Chung Euisun said in his message.

“All the achievements of our group were possible, with the efforts of the founder Chung Ju-yung, the honorary chairman Chung Mong-koo, (former) chairmen Chung Se-yung, and Chung Mong-gyu, and Kim Chul-ho, combined with the efforts of all executives and employees.”

The late Chung Se-yung, a younger brother of the late founder, Chung Ju-yung, set a milestone in company history by producing the country’s very first car, the Pony, in 1974 and successfully exporting it to Ecuador in 1976. Earning himself the name Pony Chung, Chung Se-yung led Hyundai Motor Group from 1987 to 1996.

But despite his feat, Pony Chung’s name is rarely spoken within the group.

Chung Se-yung passed the chief position at Hyundai Motor on to his son Chung Mong-gyu, until Chung Mong-koo came to the fore as leader in 1998. Chung Mong-gyu then left the automaker to lead HDC. HDC currently runs the Pony Chung Foundation to honor the legacy of Chung Se-yung.

Industry observers say Wednesday’s speech reflects Chung Euisun’s desire to accept the past and move on to the future.

“Carrying on their legacies, I would like to usher in a bold new future of Hyundai Motor Group with every single one of you,” the new chairman said.

Under his leadership, the group is expected to continue with its future endeavors.

To compete in the field of autonomous driving technology, the group recently formed a joint venture with Aptiv called Motional.

Chung Euisun is also committed to creating a hydrogen ecosystem, and Hyundai Motor also recently exported the Xcient Fuel Cell, the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell electric heavy-duty truck, to Switzerland.

“Our world-class hydrogen fuel cell technology will be used not only in automobiles, but also in various fields, as an eco-friendly energy solution for the future of humanity,” said Chung.

“We will also realize the future of our imagination through Robotics, Urban Air Mobility, Smart City and other innovations. These groundbreaking advancements will offer a higher plane of life experiences for humanity.”

In July, in a presentation to the presidential office, Chung also vowed to become one of world’s top electric vehicle producers, in part to support the government’s Green New Deal policies.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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