October 29, 2019 / 9:15 AM / 17 days ago

Hyundai Motor replaces head of premium Genesis brand

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hyundai Motor is pictured at the second media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor (005380.KS) on Tuesday named its former North American chief, William Lee, to oversee its premium Genesis brand following the departure of Manfred Fitzgerald to pursue new opportunities.

Lee faces the challenge of rejuvenating Genesis sales in the U.S. market and making headway in Europe and China, both tough markets to crack for luxury car sales.

“The company expects Mr. Lee, in his new capacity, to lead the brand’s further global expansion by leveraging his overseas business operations expertise,” Hyundai said in a statement.

“North America is an imperative market for the Genesis brand,” it added.

The news follows the appointment this month of Mark Del Rosso, a former president of Audi America, to oversee Genesis operations in North America.

Genesis U.S. sales halved to 10,312 last year, although sales have picked up this year. The United States is the biggest overseas market for Genesis, which generated 72% of its sales in South Korea last year.

Before his stint at Hyundai Motor North America, Lee oversaw Hyundai’s Brazil operations and the U.S. unit of advertising arm Innocean Worldwide (214320.KS).

Hyundai said in a recent earnings conference call that it has set up Genesis sales operations for China and Europe.

Hyundai Motor Group’s heir apparent Euisun Chung introduced the Genesis brand in November 2015, bringing in Fitzgerald, a former Lamborghini executive, a few months later to help the automaker shed its value for money image.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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