Hyundai America CEO John Krafcik Steps Down

Krafcik

Just four days after Hyundai and its Kia affiliate settled a $395 million class-action lawsuit, Hyundai America announced that President and CEO John Krafcik will leave on Dec. 31.

Krafcik, 52, has been at the Korean automaker since March 2004. His tenure as CEO of the Hyundai's U.S. operations, which dates back to November 2008, saw Hyundai reduce EPA gas-mileage estimates due to misinterpreted procedures across more than a dozen models in November 2012. But it also saw the brand balloon from just 3 percent of U.S. new-car sales in 2008 to more than 4.6 percent today. Through November, Hyundai and its Kia affiliate are the sixth largest automaker by sales. In 2008, Hyundai-Kia was a distant seventh.

Credit the surge to stylish redesigns like the current Elantra, which won Cars.com's 2011 compact-car comparison and placed second in a rematch versus fresh competition more than two years later. The Genesis luxury sedan won our highest award in 2009, while the current Sonata beat seven other contenders in Cars.com's 2010 family-sedan comparison. The Santa Fe Sport, meanwhile, ranked second among six players in this year's $38,000 Midsize SUV Challenge.

It's unclear where Krafcik is headed. Im Tak Uk, the Korean automaker's global COO, commended the outgoing CEO's "forward-looking perspective, commitment to quality and design, and pursuit of innovative new product offerings."

Krafcik holds degrees from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to Hyundai, he held positions in product development, production research and manufacturing at Ford, MIT and California's New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. — a onetime joint facility between GM and Toyota.

Sales chief Dave Zuchowski, 55, will take over the CEO role on Jan. 1, 2014.

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By Kelsey Mays | December 27, 2013 | Comments (19)
Tags: Hyundai, Industry

Comments 

Tony

This guy must be smart because he was able to beat into minds of Americans that Hyundai is new Honda. I never bought it because I went to dealer and looked at the cars, at all the details of their assembly, etc. And cars.com bought it - "Sonata beat seven other contenders in Cars.com's 2010 family-sedan comparison". And I never understood how Sonata and in which way could be better than Accord for 2010? It is not even looking good and then if you take a closer look at assembly fit and finish, you will understand that this is not top dog.

xsolara

Tony Tony Tony
I must totally disagree with you....
I have purchased over the years several Hyundai's and fit and finish for the money is great plus they ALL have been trouble free. I guess if you like the
Accord you should buy it but for me it will be another Hyundai

Tony

"...Hyundai's and fit and finish for the money is great..." - you said this, not I. "For the money..." - this is keyword.

Unfortunately, most people don't understand in fit and finish anyway. And most people don't understand what is going on in the company. It is important to know what is going on in the company and how it affects the final product.

May be this statement from Pros will make it more clear:

"In recent years, Hyundai and Kia were beginning to challenge the Japanese at the top of Consumer Reports' reliability rankings. In 2011, they scored well ahead of Detroit and most European companies. But they slipped a bit in the 2013 survey, with Kia ranking midpack and Hyundai sliding to 21st place."

You see, Hyundai took a bite they couldn't handle, and with constant union issues, they have limited time to properly design and build your cars. They don't have infrastructure and engineering power to produce quality cars for the demand that suddenly happened, thanks to that guy on the picture on top. See, even in your mind, you already have a seed that Hyundai is as good or batter. All it will take to understand what a tin can they drive, is for someone to get into a good car crash. Then you will understand the difference between Hyundai and Honda.

Derrick G

Tony,

The evidence doesn't support what you're saying, at least on the Hyundai side. The Elantra's and Veloster's insurance data is much better than the Civic's. The Accord generally is somewhat better than the Sonata, but not Genesis Coupe.

And if you're going to talk CR reliability ratings, note that the current Sonata 4 is 1% above average and Accord 4 is 4% above average, hardly a huge difference. The Sonata Turbo is 28% below average, the Accord V6 is 27% below average. Sounds like Honda is having some issues in the sweet spot of the market, too.

I got a Hyundai Elantra 2013 10 months ago, no even one complaint so far.

Hyundai in 5-10 years will be as good as honda or toyota.

Tony

Derrick G ,

go to National traffic safety and request data on fatalities. For example, Kia Rio is not one of the well-sold cars. But in the fatal crash data is one of the top. Civic, which is top-sold car is nowhere near the top fatal crashes. Using logic, I think, should be opposite. But no - people don't die a lot in Civics. I had head-on collision in Civic. Roof of that car had folded but I walked away. My friend came out without a scratch from Accord, which was totaled badly. My other friend did same thing with Acura MDX. Kia recently had to redesign the Forte structure because in the crash it would kill the driver.
An interesting part is that even that Honda cars are very safe, they are not as safe as MB and BMW - those cars are really safe. And Hyundai is a real tin can vs those. German cars are Autobahn-safe.

Tony

JohnMc,

I have Mazda3 for 3+ years and not even one complaint so far. But I also have 1998 Protege, which what Mazda3 was in 1998, with 190K miles. I bet, you don't have a 15.5 yo Hyundai which runs good all that time.

Tony,
I'm personally not a big Hyundai fan, but I feel your comments against them are unfairly biased.

My parents own a 2003 Santa Fe that they bought new, and today it has 145k miles. It's never had a problem. The sole issue is that the radio display sometimes goes out, but a gentle tap brings it back on. Otherwise, it starts everytime, has no leaks, and shows minimal wear aside from parking dings. It has been bulletproof, and they now swear by Hyundai.

Look anywhere online and there are plenty of Hyundais with well over 120k miles for sale, and they are still running and seem to hold their value well.

As mentioned, I may not personally like them, but it's hard to deny the durability. I personally hear more complaints about the quality of recent Hondas then of Hyundais

Tony

Ryan,

just the fact that there are many Hyundai cars with >120K for sale, means nothing. You don't know their history, what went wrong during use, etc. The only thing you know, well, year, mileage. Your parents are very lucky. Because, should they buy 2002 model, soon they would end up with engine head rebuild (although by warranty). Every car around has better durability now than years ago. And Hyundai makes decent cars and Honda cars have issues.
I checked Hyundai at car show last year - not impressed with fit and finish.
Hyundai unfortunately reminds me Toyota in what they allow from the conveyer line. I recently looked at Altima - same thing. Honestly, they all look more and more low quality assembly. Seems, the problem is, if your car is not assembled in Japan, you've got a problem with assembly. I compared lines, gaps, etc. of brand new Accord my friend has and my 3yo Mazda3 - Mazda3 has extreme high precision. Accord used to be better. My brother has 3 of those, I know every model well. And I really don't think the problem is at Honda, I think, the problem is culture and dedication of American worker, not even going to the Mexican one

I'm not even sure how to approach your comments Tony.

For one, I don't feel my parents are lucky; I feel they made a smart choice that worked out well for them with the Santa Fe. Over the years, I have heard many stories from very happy Hyundai owners who have kept their cars for years and many miles problem free.

Granted, they built shoddy cars in the days of the Excel and the Scoupe, but have learned quickly over time to build a better product. The mentality that they are junk belongs in the 80's, along with spandex pants and big hair.

Personally, I have been to both South Korea and Japan, and have driven a variety of vehicles in both countries. Most new cars today have decent fit and finish (the Americans gaining in leaps and bounds over the past decade), and I haven't seen much difference between the quality of today's Korean and Japanese brands. I've seen tight fits on all. If anything, since you're using them as the gold standard, Mazda interiors have had some of the hardest and most crude plastics in recent memory. They are built tightly and solid, but if you're comparing quality of the finish, they leave much to be desired. Don't believe me or want to argue, sit in a Mazda 2 and compare it to a Hyundai Accent (coming from recent memory after driving both in their native countries). And while we're at it, the new Mazda 3 has that dreadful navigation screen that looks like an afterthought and creaks if any pressure is placed on it

I really like Mazda, but if we're going to get picky on Hyundai products, especially on fit, then it's only fair to look at their competitor's under the same scope.

As far as my example that there are plenty of 120k+ mile Hyundais for sale, sure I don't know the history of them. But we don't know the histories of the Toyotas, Hondas, or Mazdas that have that mileage either

Tony

Ryan,

independently of how you feel about your parents purchase, if they would purchase that same car a year earlier, you would be singing different tune today.

Of course, Mazda3 is still an economy car. But I would challenge any Lexus or BMW for fit and finish with it, independently of the materials used. As I mentioned, many people don't even know where to look. Mazda navigation is not related to fit and finish. I recently made pictures of fit and finish of new Jeep Cherokee. This is disgrace. I need to post the photos somewhere.

If you go back to my original comment, you will realize that it was my answer to a comment that some Elantra was 10 months old and no problems. This is really funny, right? 10 months...
I just used this site to search for all Hyundai and Mazda, 1986 and on with 100k+. I don't want Honda or Toyota because they sell too much. My search returned 58 Mazda and Hyundai cars. H had 8 over 150K, M had 16. H had 3 over 170K, M had 11. Most miles on H is 190K. M had 5 over 190K with 3 having 218, 242, 254. So the durability trend is much better for Mazda. And fo Toyota and Honda that probably even better. Again, problem is that too much difference in sales to search Honda and say, "oh, look how many"

I give up Tony; I think you are unfairly biased and there's no convincing you otherwise.

It's best to buy what you think is best and if it makes you happy, then it's the perfect car. In this case, it's a Mazda 3 and Mazda Protégé for you. Both are good cars and I wouldn't dispute that at all.

Even though Hyundai wouldn't be my first pick as a car purchase, they build solid dependable cars that have a loyal following, excellent warranty, and are compelling products. Denying that would be obtuse.

If I, or the Hyundai owners who like their cars, can't convince someone that they are solid products, it's no loss.

On side note, I'm not sure why you keep saying that if my parents bought a 2002 Santa Fe vs their 2003 that they would have a different opinion.

If you do a quick search on Autotrader, there are three 2002 Santa Fes with over 200k miles for sale. The highest mileage example is in Denver and has 262k miles for $4900

Regardless of brand, that's an impressive amount of miles and resale value. That doesn't scream poor quality to me. At what point does a Santa Fe, or Hyundai, need to go before you're impressed?

Lastly, (because this debate has gone on too long) if you do a nationwide Autotrader search, the highest mileage Mazda is an '03 Protégé with 286k miles. The highest mileage Hyundai is an '09 Sonata with 274k miles. Very close, and not enough difference at that mileage to say one is better than the other

Like you said, we know none of the history of either car, but it's a good showing on both ends. You truly have to give credit where credit is due, whether you like it or not

Tony

Ryan,
because in 2001 and 2002, Hyundai vehicles with 2.4L engine blew their engines faster than 98-2004 Accord would blow their transmissions

Even if they did, it's not reason to hold a grudge against an entire brand for over a decade. Time to pull that chip off your shoulder

All car makers have less than stellar moments. All of them

Eric

The days of a Hyundai being a crappy car, that you had to drive around wearing a paper bag over your head, is gone. Fact of the matter is that they build a quality product. I own a '03 Accent with 417,000Kms on its original motor, and the most that's has had to be done was a new transmission, but it's a weak trans anyways. But I've seen them with far more. I regularly see them with 450,000, 500,000, even 600,000+ KM's. They are very durable, and will take a lot of abuse.

I bought a 2014 kia forte from humble hyundai Tx went in at 9:00Am came out with a new car at 5:30 pm yes we were there all day waiting for them to bring us the car from there other dealer ship when we did get it it was dark could not see the tire the next time we got out which was the next day we saw a knot on the tire I called them every day even went by the today at 9:00 am they still want replace our tire they will not do any thing to help us when u buy a car u should not have any problems guess what we do I go out of town every other weekend they r missing us up csn drive it till we can get a tire for it now what is the use of having a new when u cant drive it thid suck will not use them any more will not buy our next car from them at all .my name Angie Mercer .

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