The younger Chung, with a net worth that Forbes estimates at $3 billion, will take the helm of the world’s fifth-largest automaker amid a daunting period of technological and economic change buffeting the transportation industry. Autonomous driving, electrification of powertrains, hydrogen fuel cells, robotics and even the potential of flying cars are all areas in which Hyundai expects to invest more than it already has.
“Carrying on their bold and innovative legacies, I feel privileged, yet also a sense of great responsibility for opening a new chapter of Hyundai Motor Group,” Chung said in comments to Hyundai employees.
Euisun Chung will be the third generation of his family to lead one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates. His father became chairman in 2000 when Hyundai was plagued with quality issues and struggling to maintain a foothold in the North American market.
Since then Hyundai has improved quality of its vehicle lineup and earned a reputation for innovative design.
It also is in the thick of the race to develop autonomous vehicles, forming a joint venture with Aptiv, a leading supplier in the area of autonomous and connected vehicle technology. Hyundai also has invested in the ride-hailing service Grab and has partnered with Uber on electric air taxis.
Chung stated in July that he wants Hyundai to capture more than 10% of the global electric vehicle market by 2025.
But first the automaker must solve a more immediate problem: the recent recall of more than 77,000 of its Kona EV, some of which have experienced battery fires. The Korean newspaper Yonhap reported that a recall of 25,564 Konas in South Korea has been expanded to include 51,000 vehicles in North America, Europe, China and other countries.
Another challenge confronting the new leader will be the future of its Hyundai Mobis auto parts affiliate. Currently, Hyundai Mobis has annual revenue of about $33 million and ranks as the world’s sixth largest auto parts supplier, according to Bloomberg.
While Hyundai Mobis sells everything from chassis, airbags, headlights, braking and steering systems and other parts to Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors, the automaker Hyundai only owns a minority stake in the supplier.
The new chairman is expected to try and gain more direct control over Hyundai Mobis, but a 2018 attempt to buy control of the parts maker failed.