By Park Jae-hyuk
Hyundai Motor Group heir Chung Eui-sun, who currently manages the group's automotive business, will assume a greater role overseeing its construction, steelmaking and other units as well, Korea's second-largest conglomerate said Friday.
According to the nation's largest automotive group, the newly appointed executive vice chairman will direct the comprehensive management of the group, as an aide to his father, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo.
The group consists of Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors Corporation and subsidiaries in charge of steelmaking, construction, auto parts manufacturing and finance.
The executive vice chairman has been considered to understand the group's overall businesses well, as he has also served as a director of Kia Motors, Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Steel.
"Chairman Chung Mong-koo made the decision on the recent appointment, in order to enhance the group's ability to cope with the changing business environment, amid the intensifying global trade war and emergence of new competitors in the market," a Hyundai Motor Group official said.
"The decision is also a part of our group's efforts to secure the new growth engine and to enhance our competitiveness during the turning point in the industry, following the Fourth Industrial Revolution."
The recent appointment is the first promotion of the chairman's only son in nine years, since he was promoted as vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Company in 2009.
The 47-year-old faces a daunting task, as U.S. President Donald Trump has warned of hefty tariffs on cars, auto parts and steel products imported to the country. The executive vice chairman should also recover sales of Hyundai cars in the U.S., China and emerging markets.
His broad network in the global market is expected to help him overcoming the crisis.
After graduating Korea University Business School in 1993, he took a master of business administration from the University of San Francisco in 1997. Then, he worked at Japanese trading company Itochu's New York office.
Since he began working for Hyundai Motor Company in 2009, after serving as the president of Kia, he has visited various countries where Hyundai sells its cars. He also participated in the Consumer Electronics Show and the North American International Auto Show.
Earlier this month, the heir-apparent visited India to deliver a keynote speech at the Move Global Mobility Summit.
"We are actively transitioning from a car manufacturer to a smart mobility provider," he said at that time.
To secure the group's future growth engine, Chung has also made investments in prospective global startups, including the U.S. on-demand ride app Migo, the Singapore-based ride-hailing app Grab and the U.S. self-driving car startup Aurora.
His company has scouted global experts in the automotive industry as well, since it hired Peter Schreyer as head of design in 2006. Hyundai said Friday former Volkswagen brand marketing expert Cornelia Schneider will also join the company on Monday.