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Hyundai R&D head resigns

by Mark Kleis

Lee Hyun-soon, 27-year veteran of Hyundai Motor Co., has retired from the Korean automaker, citing personal reasons.

The departure of Lee Hyun-soon, 60, from Hyundai Motor Co. will likely be met with disappointment from many of the brand's fans as he was a valuable asset to the Korean automaker since joining Hyundai in 1984.

Lee Hyun-soon officially held the title of vice chairman, research and development, and his duties will be taken up by Yang Woong-chul, who currently serves as the president of the research and development center in Namyang, according to Automotive News. Although Yang will take over Lee's former duties, Yang will not assume Lee's old title, as Hyundai will not be creating a new vice chairman position.

During Lee's 27-year tenure with Hyundai, the R&D head played a crucial role in the Alpha engine development program in 1991. Prior to the Alpha engine, Hyundai had been sourcing its engines from Mitsubishi for several years, making it a crucial step for the automaker as it continued on to become one of the world's largest automakers.

Lee, an engineer by trade, is also credited for overseeing the construction of the Namyang tech center in 1996, a massive facility that now is responsible for 10,000 engineers worldwide. AN also points out that Lee enjoys somewhat of a cult hero status amongst engineering students in Korea, particularly for his push for the development of fuel-injected engines and gas-electric hybrids at Hyundai.

Before joining Hyundai in 1984, Lee started his work in the auto industry at General Motor's Research Institute. Lee received a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

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