From M to N to R&D Boss: Albert Biermann's Promotion Has Hyundai Fans Daydreaming
What new products will Albert Biermann spearhead? That’s what Hyundai watchers wonder as they read that the former BMW M performance head — and later boss of Hyundai’s fledgling N division — has in store for the Korean automaker.
Late last week, Hyundai announced that Biermann would become the first foreign-born executive in charge of the automaker’s R&D. He does so after getting the Kia Stinger and Hyundai N line off the ground; clearly, those at the top approve of his vision. With this latest appointment, Hyundai Motor Group now finds itself with a former Bimmer performance chief and a design head from Bentley. Not a bad place to be.
Biermann, who joined the company in April 2015, is one of 17 Hyundai execs who found themselves in a new role following the recent shakeup. The credit for this likely goes to Euisun Chung, who, in September, became the group’s executive vice-chairman. Chung is the 48-year-old son of 80-year-old chairman Mong-Koo Chung.
As the group’s performance boss and head of Hyundai’s N division, Biermann drew on years of experience at BMW, a company he joined in 1983. The exec worked his way up to vice president of engineering at BMW M Automobiles in 2008. Fond of saying power is nothing without handling, Biermann quickly went to work tackling Hyundai’s dearth of performance-oriented models; his promotion comes as the first N-badged vehicle, the Hyundai Veloster N, begins arriving on U.S. shores.
It’s Biermann who can be credited with helping Hyundai and Kia shed some of their staid, economy car image. More N models will come, as will N Line variants of current vehicles. Think of N Line as a regular model with a modicum of extra flavor. The Kia Stinger, on the other hand, is the rear-drive sports sedan no one ever expected Kia to build, and it’s all Biermann’s doing. That model became the basis for the just-launched Genesis G70.
Less than four years after Biermann joined the company, Hyundai Motor has more than just sensible compacts and snoozy crossovers to talk about. Now, everyone’s talking about what we can expect next.
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Hyundai has fans?