Hyundai U.S. Sales Vice President Derrick Hatami Is Out, Effective Immediately

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
hyundai u s sales vice president derrick hatami is out effective immediately

Updated at 10:00pm on June 6 with response from Hyundai.

Derrick Hatami, Hyundai Motor America’s vice president of sales for less than two years, has been removed from Hyundai’s leadership team as of today, June 6, 2017.

After record annual volume in the 2016 calendar year, Hyundai’s U.S. sales have been falling fast throughout 2017. Year-over-year, Hyundai volume declined in each of the last six months, including an 18-percent decline in May 2017.

That decline enabled partner brand Kia to outsell Hyundai for the first time in the brands’ U.S. history, evidently a source of embarrassment for Hyundai. Having already forced out the company’s U.S. CEO, Dave Zuchowski, just before Christmas last year after Hyundai’s rapid growth stalled, Derrick Hatami’s departure leaves a hole that will be filled in the interim by Hyundai’s southern regional general manager, Sam Brnovich, according to Automotive News.

Last week, Hyundai wasn’t short on excuses for the company’s poor May performance. This week, the excuses were apparently not good enough.

Prior to his tenure as Hyundai Motor America’s sales leader, Derrick Hatami was, in fact, previously a Hyundai employee. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hatami became Hyundai’s director of revenue management and strategic planning in 2005. Hatami moved up Hyundai’s corporate ladder to become the general manager of the U.S. western region in 2010.

Hatami switched allegiances in 2014 for a 21-month run as the vice president for sales at Nissan North America. Nissan set U.S. sales records in 2014 and 2015 — admittedly having done so in 2013, prior to Hatami’s reign — before Hatami moved back to Hyundai Motor America.

Recognizing the issues at play upon his return to Hyundai, Hatami ominously told Automotive News, “You’re never going to have everybody completely happy.”

Hatami and Zuchowski worked virtually hand in hand. “We’re on the same page more times than not,” Hatami said.

That page was already rejected by Hyundai HQ in Zuchowski’s case. Now, Derrick Hatami finds out what it’s like to disappoint the Hyundai brass in early 2017.

“Derrick served the company well during his time as head of sales and we wish him nothing but success,” Hyundai told Automotive News.

Hyundai reached out to TTAC Tuesday evening in an attempt to correct the record, stating that Derrick Hatami left the company of his own accord and that the link to Zuchowski’s departure is incorrect.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jun 07, 2017

    Here's Peter De Lorenzo's take over at The Autoextremist, in today's On The Table: "Hyundai. Editor-In-Chief's Note: As I said in my Autoextremist Brand Image Meter column this week, there’s no use telling Korean auto executives what to do. They know absolutely everything there is to know about absolutely everything. And if you're an executive in their employ who doesn’t concur with the company line - or excuses - you are jettisoned in favor of someone who will. Hyundai has been careening around like this for years, and there’s no relief in sight. And, as if on cue, Hyundai fired its top sales guy this week, Derrick Hatami. Or he resigned. The ugly reality for Hyundai? The company has lost its mojo in the U.S. market. Remember, Hyundai just jettisoned its U.S. CEO, Dave Zuchowski, last December. According to Automotive News, Hyundai brand sales dropped 18 percent in May, to 58,259 units. That's also six straight months of sales declines, year over year. For 2017, sales are down 7.5 percent to 283,547 units. Hyundai's notorious shortsighted thinking is on full display here. They look for quick fixes and fire executives left and right instead of taking a long, hard look at the way they do business. The company makes strategic and product mistakes, then it plays the blame game because, well, you know, it's never their fault. This just in: Yeah, it is. -PMD"

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 07, 2017

    "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

  • SCE to AUX I'm almost 60, and have been wearing seat belts since I was a child (my father had them added to his 62 Beetle).Recently, I saw a parked car with the passenger seat belt clicked into the driver side latch - obviously to over-ride the alerts. You have to be pretty desperate (or large) to avoid using them.But this isn't the first vehicle I've seen where the latch gets caught somewhere. Is there some sort of standard for that now?
  • Tassos those 90s pathetic orange pixels are inexcusably lame in a 2010.The interior is filled with Grey Rubbermaid plastic and the tiny sliver of real or fake wood is an utterly pathetic attempt to pretend it's upscale (don't even THINK of "Luxury")Merc SLs with similar metal retractable roofs look so much better inside and out.Regardless of what you paid for this way undepowered near-luxury pretend-sports car, you would have done so much better with a PORSCHE BOXSTER...
  • Dukeisduke That's a cool picture (the one under the bridge) - where was it taken? Google Image Search doesn't turn up any matches.
  • Dukeisduke Okay, yeah, they should fix this, but, "URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE"? I think we're reaching Peak Idiocracy.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a great review, and very accurate from my perspective as the owner of a closely related, but longer and taller, E93 335i convertible. So much in this review is familiar. Here are the things that are a bit different about the 335i:[list][*]My car is a manual. Shifter action is good, with positive engagement, although a bit more play and rubbery feeling in the shifter than you would get with, say, a six-speed Honda. The clutch is a bit disappointing. It has a "clutch dampening valve" intended to protect against the most abusive clutch dumps. The valve throws my timing off a bit and I have had a hard time learning to drive this car with perfect smoothness, especially in the 1-2 shift. I may remove the valve at some point.[/*][*]My car has the turbo (in single-turbo N55 form). On the plus side, you get what feels like significantly more power than the rated 300 hp once on the boost, and even in fully stock form you get entertaining whooshing noises from the blowoff valve. On the minus side, there is some turbo lag, more than you get in many modern turbo cars, and fuel economy is, well, not close to what Corey is getting. The turbo car also comes with an active exhaust system that is extremely quiet when puttering while making some nice inline-six noise at wide-open throttle.[/*][*]There are back seats! I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. The six-year-old fits perfectly. The nine-year-old still fits, but that will likely change within the next three years. These seats are not usable for adults unless the front-seat occupants squeeze forward more than normal. E92 coupes are slightly roomier in back, and E90 sedans are substantially roomier.[/*][*]My car has the M Sport suspension, which does not have variable dampers. It's firm enough that I have to be careful to avoid even small holes on city streets if I don't want to get jarred. But if you can avoid the holes it feels good, navigating expansion joints and such without uncomfortable impact, while maintaining impressive body control for a porky 3900-pound convertible.[/*][*]My car has iDrive and a screen, as well as parking sensors. But it does not have a backup camera. Graphics on the screen are pretty good by 2011 standards, which is to say not acceptable by modern standards, but the system is easy enough to navigate and works pretty well. I prefer the rotary controller to a touch screen for fingerprint reasons.[/*][*]The parking sensors are by far the best of any car I've ever owned, and they are so accurate I really don't need a camera. The sensors go to a solid beep when the appropriate end is about 4" from an object, and I can comfortably cover about half that distance with no fear of bumping. They also project legimately useful graphics on the iDrive screen showing where the object is. I park in tight city settings enough that I really appreciate the accuracy. Also in the city parking mold, my car has power folding mirrors, which I wish every car would.[/*][*]Like you, I have the mid-level "Hi-Fi Professional" stereo setup, but in the four-seat convertible there is not a dedicated subwoofer. Bass is a bit on the weak side. Sound quality is about comparable with the JBL system in my Toyota Highlander, which is to say it's good enough for listening in the car but is not going to impress anyone.[/*][*]There are small leaks from the joints between the top and the A-pillars in my car. They won't soak the interior, but they will result in a few drops of water on the front seats after a hard rain. I'm still experimenting to see if regular applications of rubber protectant can restore the seals enough to eliminate the leaks. There are no leaks from any other part of the top mechanism.[/*][*]I've only owned the car for about eight months and 1500 miles, but so far nothing has broken and every feature on the car works correctly. A purchase-time inspection found only an incorrectly secured fan shroud and no other problems, and there is a mostly complete service history, so this was a well-maintained car to start with.[/*][/list]