Hyundai names new China boss after supplier disputes, sales slide


September 4, 2017 11:23 CET

SINGAPORE — Hyundai Motor appointed a new chief for its China operations after payment disputes with suppliers resulted in temporary shutdowns last month at four of its factories in the automaker’s biggest market.

Tao Hung Tan replaced Chang Won-shin as the CEO of Beijing Hyundai Motor on Sept. 1, the company said on Monday, without elaborating on the reasons for the change. Hyundai’s joint venture with BAIC Motor in China has five factories, of which one isn’t operational yet.

One of the suppliers suspended delivery of fuel tanks, citing payment delays, causing the brief output disruptions in August, according to a Hyundai spokesman. Operations resumed after talks, which are still continuing. Hyundai and BAIC representatives said Aug. 30 that the factories were running normally.

The replacement of the top executive comes on the heels of the shutdowns that have exposed the failings of Hyundai in China, where its sales tumbled 42 percent in the first half of 2017. The carmaker has been hurt by a sedan-heavy lineup in a market where SUVs are gaining popularity, while discounts offered by local rivals and foreign brands dent its share.

Geopolitics have made matters worse for Hyundai as well. The automaker has struggled to recover from a Chinese consumer backlash after South Korea’s plans to deploy a U.S. missile-defense system on its soil.

Hyundai and Kia Motors plan to provide 250 billion won ($ 221 million) to their suppliers in China in a liquidity boost, South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said separately in a statement Monday.

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