Hyundai Motor Company and its sister brand Kia Motors have roped in Albert Biermann to develop performance cars and improve ride and handling. Mr. Biermann was earlier associated with the German luxury brand BMW's M performance cars as chief engineer. As executive vice president, Biermann will become the South Korean automakers' second-highest foreign executive after design chief Peter Schreyer, formerly of Audi AG.
"Hyundai's push to performance cars aims at going upmarket and garnering higher margins," said Lee Hang-koo, a senior researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade. Biermann, 57, had been with BMW for over 30 years. He will be in charge of testing and developing performance cars at a research centre in Seoul starting April, Hyundai-Kia said in statement. He will also advise on product strategy and marketing for the European market. His appointment "will pave the way for Hyundai-Kia to go head to head with European premium carmakers," the Korean pair said.
Hyundai-Kia earn 60 percent of sales primarily from selling large and mid-sized cars in their home market, where they are being increasingly pressured by a growing number of imports from makers including BMW. His appointment would come as Hyundai-Kia, known more for affordable passenger cars, is trying to raise its brand image.