Hyundai Motor Co. named William Lee, who has held various leadership roles in 35 years with the automaker, interim president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.
The appointment, announced Tuesday, comes a day after the automaker said the previous CEO of Hyundai Motor America, Kenny Lee, had left the post, after just over a year in the job, and returned to Korea in an advisory role.
A search for a permanent president and CEO will begin immediately.
Hyundai says the move will allow for an "efficient and effective operational integration between the North America and U.S. operations."
William Lee recently took charge of the newly established Hyundai Motor North America, an operation that Hyundai says will provide "greater integration across the entire region to actively respond to evolving market trends and customer needs."
He previously headed Hyundai Motor Brazil and also led international sales at Hyundai Motor Co. in Seoul.
He's no stranger to the U.S., having led the creation of ad agency Innocean USA in 2009 and ran overseas sales for Hyundai Mobis Parts, which is headquartered in San Francisco.
The automaker said the appointment is part of a series of moves that will make the company "more globalized and customer-oriented."
Hyundai said Monday that Thomas Schemera, who was hired from BMW to oversee Hyundai's high-performance car division in March, will now be responsible for product planning for autonomous cars, connected and electrified vehicles.
In another move, Luc Donckerwolke, a former Bentley design chief who joined Hyundai in 2016, will become head of design for the brand, replacing Peter Schreyer, who last month took over a new role as head of design management.
Hyundai has been building momentum this year with a lineup of new, freshened and redesigned crossovers. The Hyundai brand, buoyed by the new Kona and the Tucson crossover, had a 3 percent increase in U.S. sales in September from a year earlier. U.S. sales at Hyundai are off 0.8 percent through September and the brand has been surpassed this year by Subaru.
While it rebuilds sales momentum, Hyundai is also coping with fallout from noncollision fires that have been reported in hundreds of vehicles. The Center for Auto Safety is urging Hyundai and its Kia sibling brand to recall almost 3 million crossovers and sedans for potential fires that could erupt while people are driving. Congress has invited the regional CEOs of Hyundai and Kia to appear Nov. 14 before the Senate Commerce Committee, the same panel that grilled Mary Barra over faulty ignition switches just weeks into her tenure as General Motors CEO.
"The efforts we've made with our recent product introductions and improvements in the overall customer experience have directly led to retail sales and market share gains over the past several months," William Lee said in a statement. "This is an incredibly exciting time to be working at Hyundai and I'm proud to lead this dedicated and passionate team."