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Hyundai fires U.S. CEO Dave Zuchowski

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 22/12/2016 Nathan Bomey

Korean automaker Hyundai has fired its U.S. CEO Dave Zuchowski.

Jerry Flannery, who was serving as executive vice president and general counsel, will take over temporarily as CEO of the division, known as Hyundai Motor America.

The company had no immediate comment Wednesday on the reason for Zuchowski's termination. Hyundai brand vehicle sales were up 2.1% through November, compared to the same period in 2015, according to Autodata Corp.

“We appreciate Dave’s decade of service to Hyundai, especially his leadership as president and CEO, which has made us a stronger organization,” Flannery said in a statement. "I look forward to working closely with our dealers, affiliates, senior management and our talented and hard-working employees across the country to realize Hyundai’s full potential."

It's not the first time Hyundai has carried out an abrupt transition in its American leadership team. The company's previous U.S. CEO, John Krafcik, exited in surprising fashion in 2013 after a celebrated tenure and was replaced by Zuchowski.

Krafcik later joined tech giant Google as CEO of the company's self-driving car project, where he announced plans this month to rename the division Waymo.

Flannery takes over as the Korean automaker attempts an ambitious plan: capitalizing on the launch a new luxury brand, Genesis, which was spawned from an upscale Hyundai model. He'll have to manage about 350 dealers nationwide who are dedicated to selling the new lineup.

Genesis is entering a crowded space, competing against the likes of luxury stalwarts like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

Hyundai U.S. CEO Dave Zuchowski in Alabama last week at an introductory event for the redone 2015 Hyundai Sonata.: <span style="font-size:13px;">Hyundai CEO Dave Zuchowski</span>© James R. Healey, USA TODAYHyundai CEO Dave Zuchowski


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