If he were real, Andy Dufresne would be impressed with Hyundai CEO John Krafcik who despite the obstacles is being named the 2013 Automotive Executive of the Year
After all, both the fictional Shawshank Redemption character and charismatic brand boss were forced to mire their way through a lot of muck… Of course, Dufresne literally crawled through the sewers while Krafcik’s journey was figurative, navigating Hyundai’s mpg misstatement mess.
“With his superb team, John Krafcik has literally reshaped the way Hyundai approaches the market with consumer focus, compelling design, and enduring value,” notes Robert Djurovic, executive director of the Automotive Executive of the Year Award program. “It’s no surprise that accolades for Hyundai products just keep coming.” Or is it?
The saga began when an EPA audit exposed that Hyundai’s fuel consumption claims were exaggerated by an average three percent. Both Hyundai and Kia were embroiled in the controversy and in the most severe case, the Kia Soul was found to fall 6 mpg below its stated figure.
Despite a hurricane of bad press, Hyundai emerged relatively unscathed. It offered affected owners free pre-loaded debit cards to account for extra annual fuel costs, and despite some lawsuits saw little backlash by consumers.
Now more than seven months after the first stories emerged, Hyundai’s North American CEO is set to receive a venerable industry award in Detroit.
“I accept the honor with the understanding that I am representing the hard work, dedication, and achievements of all the men and women who work at Hyundai around the world, including our R&D facilities in Michigan and California, our U.S. manufacturing plants, and our passionate and dedicated network of 823 Hyundai dealers across the U.S.,” Krafcik said.
In the same time period as the cars bearing overzealous mpg badges were built, Hyundai’s annual U.S. sales grew by over 30 percent. More importantly, those sales haven’t dipped through the first quarter of this year despite the controversy.