Hyundai Motor America today named Michael O'Brien vice president of product and corporate planning -- an influential position that has been vacant since John Krafcik became CEO in late 2008.
O'Brien, 55, spent the last 14 years at Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales division as a manager within the corporate planning division. He most recently oversaw U.S. product strategy including Toyota van, pickup and SUV models as well as powertrain, advanced technology vehicles and regulatory planning.
Prior to joining Toyota, he worked at Hyundai in product planning, parts and marketing roles, including managing Hyundai's ProRally motorsports program.
In his new position, O'Brien will steer the development and expansion of Hyundai's model lineup, and direct business planning and corporate strategy efforts. He will report to Krafcik.
“It's great to have Mike O'Brien back on the Hyundai team,” Krafcik said in a statement. “Mike's a real car guy with strong technical credentials, yet he's also a smart and passionate business leader. That's a rare skill set.”
Hyundai -- zeroing in on Japanese rivals Toyota, Honda and Nissan -- was one of only three automotive brands to post higher U.S. sales last year.
In the next 12 months, the Korean automaker plans to introduce a redesign of the Elantra and Accent, a small Elantra-based sporty coupe, the Equus luxury sedan, and hybrid and turbocharged versions of the Sonata sedan.
The company also is exploring a wagon version of the Sonata.