On people front, Hyundai is star of the show

Richard Johnson is Managing Editor of Automotive News
Gosh, this feels more like a people show than a car show. There are more new executives on display in Detroit than vehicles -- from General Motors' Chairman Ed Whitacre to Chrysler supremo Sergio Marchionne.

But there is inordinate buzz about three guys in particular, and not because they are new. Rather it's because they AREN'T new.

Hyundai Motor America's fine triumvirate -- CEO John Krafcik, sales boss Dave Zuchowski and marketing whiz Joel Ewanick -- are kinda the talk of the show.

These guys are hot.

Hyundai was one of just three brands to record a sales increase last year, and it was done largely by their wits -- from the Hyundai Assurance incentive to big advertising splashes at the Academy Awards and Super Bowl.

Through the first three-fourths of the decade, Hyundai Motor America chewed up and spat out a host of executives. But things have settled down.

Zuchowski pointed out today that Toyota benefited from having Jim Press in charge of North American sales operations for so many years and that Honda was helped by having Dick Colliver run the show for so long.

"One thing the dealers told us was that they wanted consistent leadership," said Zuchowski. "We have been here for three years."

With the need for talent these days, especially in Detroit, one wonders if the hot Hyundai trio has heard from any headhunters. No, I couldn't get Zuchowski to bite on that one.