In his final official interview as chief, Hurtiger said he is proud to have renewed all of RSM’s vehicles, including the SM3, SM5, SM7 and QM5, as well as leading its customer satisfaction level to the top notch for nine consecutive years.
“I’m sad to leave because I have not seen the success of the new SM7 and QM5 yet but I still think I have accomplished what I was here for.”
He pointed out the company’s peaceful, strike-less wage negotiation maintained across nine years.
“We have modernized corporate identity, we have increased women’s employment. And we completely changed the lineup quality,” the CEO boasted. Renault Group appointed Francois Provost, the group’s deputy managing director in Russia, to replace Hurtiger from Sept. 1.
The only letdown he mentioned in his five and a half year tenure was the company’s slowing profitability. The CEO did not disclose the position he would be taking back home but said he is “very happy about it because it’s a step up.”
While RSM exported a total of 70,914 cars in the first half of the year, posting an all-time record, its net income was down 54.9 percent on-year to 36.1 billion won ($34.4 million).
“The problem is that we have been strongly affected by the exchange rate. If the 2007 (Korean won against the Japanese yen) rate is capped, our 2010 operating profit would have gone up by 60 percent,” Hurtiger said.
He said the company was trying to localize manufacturing of key automotive components to reduce such exchange risk, especially after it saw disruptions caused by the Japanese tsunami in March. The company was forced to cut production at its Busan plant by 20 percent due to supply chain disruptions in Japan.
He had said earlier that localizing component productions was a “critical and priority task” for the company.
“Some things can be localized soon and there are things that take time. Anti-lock brake systems, engine or gear box are complicated. Gear boxes are also very difficult because they need very high volume to be efficient,” he said.
Hurtiger had also been the chairman of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea since 2008.
By Cynthia J. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)