Hyundai Motor Corp. and Kia Motors Corp. have tapped Albert Biermann as executive vice president for developing high-performing vehicles and leading research efforts on performance, safety, durability, noise oscillation and system development. Biermann was chief engineer for BMW's M performance cars and light trucks.
Biermann's hiring at Hyundai-Kia comes as the South Korean carmakers try to boost their brand image both at home and abroad, after being known as makers of affordable passenger vehicles. Lee Hang-koo, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, remarked that Hyundai's push to performance cars is aimed at “going upmarket and garnering higher margins."
Biermann, a 30-year veteran at BMW, will be given the responsibility to test and develop performance cars at a Hyundai-Kia’s research center in Seoul starting April 2015, the carmakers said in a statement.
His role also covers providing advice on product strategy and marketing for the European market. Hyundai-Kia said that Biermann’s appointment would allow the South Korean carmakers to go “head to head with European premium carmakers."
Their home turf accounts for around 60 percent of their combined sales, although other carmakers are increasingly penetrating the South Korean market.