Ex-BMW engineering chief Biermann does plenty of good at Hyundai

Article by Andrew Christian, on February 10, 2016

Let’s just say that Hyundai hit the jackpot when it decided to lure BMW veteran Albert Biermann to become a part of the South Korean company. It can be recalled that last April, Hyundai Motor CEO Chung Mong-koo entrusted Biermann with a special, urgent task of completing the Genesis G90 project.

Hyundai hired Biermann so that its luxury vehicles will have the same driving characteristics and features as those of a typical German luxury vehicle. Biermann will have a lot to share as he once served as BMW's M performance division head.

He led the team that developed the likes of M3 and M5 during his time. However, the G90 executive sedan came with a specific mandate— a rear seat ride that appeals mostly to Chinese and Korean customers, who usually have chauffeurs to drive their luxury cars.

The new Hyundai luxury vehicle is the flagship model of the car maker's first homegrown luxury brand. At the Detroit Auto Show, the 58-year-old car expert said with a perfect amount of humor, "I almost spent as much time in the back of the G90 as driving the G90."

When the EQ900 first emerged in South Korea in December and made it to the Detroit Auto Show the next month, it drew in quite the attention. Hyundai, which only began developing its own engines in 1991, had released a full-fledged product plan for the new luxury brand together with the help of known former high-ranking officials poached from Lamborghini, BMW, and Bentley.

In line with this, having Biermann who spent over 30 years at BMW in the team was probably one of the most significant elements of the entire effort. Chung believes that Biermann is capable of enriching the Korean team by imparting his years of experience with them.

Additionally, he believes that the latter can enhance the brand by adapting the German automakers' principles in car making— the perfect blend of performance and comfort. The adjustments may seem difficult but Biermann said that his newly-found team is making quite a progress.

For example, the G90 has been improved with so many tweaks compared to its predecessor, Equus. As he leads the pack of Hyundai engineers at the test track in Namyang, Biermann recalls his first years with BMW when he had to master the art of tuning a suspension.

Biermann noted, "To be honest, physics just don't change.” According to Biermann, the company didn't utilize what he would call, "the fancy stuff" for the new luxury car. "The fancy stuff" included rear-wheel steering or anti-roll stabilization and air suspension.

Biermann claimed that this will cost too much, making the vehicle more expensive. Right now, the goal is to become more competitive in the market. After all, Biermann's job is not to copy today's high-end BMW models.

He is more focused on replicating the BMWs during his early years— those built with precision and passion which led the BMW brand to where it is now known for. Furthermore, Biermann said that Chung always reminded him that quality is the top priority.

He expressed that Chung wanted the cars to be as good as new not just after the first two to three years but to withstand the test of decades without degrading in quality.

What Does N Stand for?

The G90 may be Biermann's first major undertaking with Hyundai but it was not the main reason behind his employment. Originally, Hyundai wanted him to run N, the company's sports car subsidiary that was established in 2012.

Currently, N's High Performance Vehicle Development Center is composed of 130 talented people from around the world. The figures do not include the powertrain engineers who are tasked to develop the engines.

N stands for Namyang, where Biermann is based in the country. It could also refer to the German road circuit where he oversees engineers from the three-year-old European testing center of Hyundai, Nurburgring.

Topics: hyundai, bmw

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