TTAC Salutes John Krafcik

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Automotive News reports that Hyundai CEO John Krafcik will be stepping down from his post as of January 1st, at the completion of his contract. While this would normally be the sort of thing reported by TTAC Staff, Krafcik has been as influential as former EIC’s Bertel Schmitt and Ed Niedermeyer in my understanding of the auto industry.

A month after I was hired on at TTAC, I was tasked with my first press trip as a representative of the publication. The event was the first drive of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, and it was made clear that I would have to be on my absolute best behavior. Both Bertel and Ed were well acquainted with Krafcik, and a number of Hyundai execs could be counted among the “silent majority” of TTAC readers who check in every day without participating in the comments. This event, according to Bertel, was not one where I would simply blend into the background as another nameless journalist on one of many waves attending the event.

Far from the overly chipper and polished CEO archetype that can be found in the industry, Krafcik always displayed a genuine warmth and interest in people, regardless of their reputation or standing. He was especially patient with me as I struggled to bring myself up to speed on the business and regulatory elements of the car world. Despite his busy schedule, Krafcik would often respond to my short email questions with a lengthy and detailed lesson via telephone as a means of helping to explain the granular side of the industry. Without him, I would not have anywhere near the sort of grasp I do on areas like CAFE, alternative powertrains and the way product planning decisions are made. These lessons have been extremely illuminating for me, and without them, the quality of my work would not be the same.

On behalf of everyone at TTAC, we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • WhiskerDaVinci WhiskerDaVinci on Dec 28, 2013

    Does anyone actually know why he left? I'm not trying to sound snarky, I get speculation haha. I'm just genuinely curious why he left. It seems clear that the EPA scandal was part of it, but maybe there's more to it than that?

  • AGR AGR on Dec 29, 2013

    Considering the state of flux of upper management prior to Krafcik, its been miraculous that he lasted so long. The changes have always been sudden, abrupt, at the last minute. They are upholding the tradition. Interesting that in Canada, the same guy has been there for decades. Besides improving their product, Hyundai has enjoyed several opportunistic events directed in their favor during the past few years. While the future presents a harsher reality. From Automotive News on Dave Zuchowski's appointment to replace Krafcik: His appointment, hailed by dealers, puts a more sales-oriented executive at the helm of Hyundai's U.S. operations at a time when its volume growth is trailing the overall market.

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.
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