And so the Hyundai-fication of Detroit continues.
In May, General Motors Co. hired Joel Ewanick, Hyundai Motor America's former top marketer. Ewanick, in turn, lured two of his top Hyundai lieutenants to GM: Chris Perry and Liz Boone.
Now Ford is turning to Hyundai. Last week Joel Piaskowski was named head of exterior design for Ford in the Americas, including all Ford brand and Lincoln models.
Piaskowski, 41, last worked for Mercedes-Benz and spent 13 years at GM. But it was at Hyundai that he made his mark. He led the Hyundai Motor America design team from 2003 to January 2009 and was responsible for the Genesis Coupe and Genesis sedan, which was named 2009 North American Car of the Year. In January 2006, Automotive News hailed Piaskowski as one of the industry's "10 rising stars."
In 2009, Piaskowski left Hyundai to become head of Mercedes' U.S. advanced design studio near Carlsbad, Calif. He left Mercedes in March of this year.
Piaskowski grew up on a steady diet of auto shows, car talk and car books. His father, Gerry, retired from DaimlerChrysler in 2001 as vice president of design after a nearly 40-year career. In high school, the young Piaskowski took Saturday classes at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, the design school he would graduate from in 1990.
His career at GM included stints at Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick; the Opel design center in Ruesselsheim, Germany; the Isuzu design center in Fujisawa, Japan; and the Suzuki design center in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Piaskowski once recalled being attracted to Hyundai in part because of his dislike of the 2002 Santa Fe crossover, which had been shaped largely by the U.S. design team.
"That vehicle specifically showed the design world that Hyundai is not afraid to take chances," he said in a 2005 interview. "That's what was intriguing to me, that design was going to be something that was influential in the advancement of the company."