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Automobiles

Hyundai heir takes over automaking group from ailing father

Chung Euisun named chairman amid recall and pandemic headwinds

Hyundai Motor's global sales have taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic.    © Reuters

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor Group heir Chung Euisun has officially taken over the world's fifth-largest automaker from his ailing father, becoming the third generation of the founding family to lead the company.

Hyundai announced on Wednesday that Chung was named chairman of the group with the endorsement of board members of Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis. Chung's father, Mong-koo, 82, resigned from the top job and given the title of honorary chairman.

The group said Chung Mong-koo asked his son to lead the company recently, expressing his wish to step down. The senior Chung was hospitalized in July for diverticulitis, a gastrointestinal disease.

The announcement comes as Hyundai attempt to transform itself from an automaker into a "mobility solutions company" by developing autonomous driving and flying car technology. Hyundai is also investing in hydrogen fuel cars, as a bet on the next-generation energy.

Hyundai Motor Group's newly appointed chairman Chung Euisun (Photo courtesy of Hyundai)

"Our world-class hydrogen fuel cell technology will be used not only in automobiles, but also in various fields as an eco-friendly energy solution for the future of humanity," the younger Chung said in a statement. "We will also realize the future of our imagination through robotics, urban air mobility, smart city and other innovations."

But the company is struggling to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused its global sales to drop sharply. Hyundai Motor's sales fell 19.4% to 2.6 million units in the first three quarters from a year ago.

The company is also involved in a recall of its flagship electric vehicle, the Kona SUV. After announcing an initial voluntary recall in South Korea due to a risk of fire, the company announced it is expanding the recall to the U.S. and potentially other overseas markets.

Shares of Hyundai Motor were trading up 0.28% on Wednesday morning.

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