LOS ANGELES -- Hyundai Motor America, which already has impressed customers and critics with a strong batch of new vehicles in the past year, has lured away one of Toyota's top U.S. product planners.
Michael O'Brien, 55, spent the past 14 years at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., most recently overseeing product planning for minivans, pickups and SUVs, as well as for powertrain, advanced technology vehicles and regulatory planning.
O'Brien returned to Hyundai last week as vice president of product and corporate planning.
Before moving to Toyota, he had worked at Hyundai in product planning, parts and marketing.
O'Brien, an avowed detractor of time-consuming PowerPoint presentations, said in a telephone interview that he was lured back to Hyundai by its "agility and speed in decision-making."
"Within Toyota product planning, they have a number of people who serve similar roles to the one I will have at Hyundai.
"A smaller company is an advantage for my personality, to work more efficiently. For me it's a good opportunity to have a broader impact."
Hyundai's top product post has been vacant since John Krafcik became CEO in late 2008.
Toyota has not announced a replacement for O'Brien.
Sales of the Hyundai brand have risen 25 percent in the United States through June. That compares with 17 percent for the entire industry.