2020 ALL STAR | US EXECUTIVE, GLOBAL AUTOMAKER
Hyundai Motor North America | Hyundai Motor America
Hyundai Motor Co. chose Jose Muñoz, 55, in early 2019 to shake up the Hyundai and Genesis brands in North America — and the longtime auto executive has not disappointed.
The automaker already had solid momentum in the U.S. thanks to fresh product, including new crossovers. Sales were up nearly 5 percent last year in a down market and vehicle quality scores for Hyundai and Genesis were among the best in the industry.
Over the last year, Muñoz and his team developed dealer programs to tackle weak spots where Hyundai is lagging its key Japanese rivals: the image of its dealership facilities and customer satisfaction scores.
When the coronavirus hit and the U.S. went into a partial lockdown, Muñoz moved within days to revive the Hyundai Assurance program to assist buyers in the event of job loss, put aggressive financing offers in place and secured vehicle inventory from Korea as U.S. plants temporarily closed.
The result: Hyundai did better than many automakers in terms of overall sales, retail sales, incentive spending and dealer profitability.
Hyundai said retail sales are 0.4 percent higher through the third quarter and the brand is tied for retail market-share gain, which has risen to 4.6 percent from 4 percent.
Dealer net profit during the same period is up 82 percent and dealer return on sales is up 77 percent. Better dealer profitability has allowed Hyundai to blunt some of the concerns from retailers about the cost of facility-upgrade programs.
Muñoz, who is Spanish, also has assembled a diverse executive team that includes women and people of color in the top jobs for U.S. sales, marketing, product planning, cost optimization and communications.
Despite a difficult year for the auto industry, Muñoz still believes his brands can achieve the target of 1 million sales by 2025. Sales in 2019 were just more than 710,000 for Hyundai and Genesis combined.