Hyundai U.S. operations chief Brian Smith to depart

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LOS ANGELES — Hyundai Motor America COO Brian Smith is leaving the automaker just short of three years on the job. His exit is effective Monday.

“The position of Hyundai Motor America COO will not be replaced at this time as the company continues to prioritize and consolidate its regional management structure around the world,” Hyundai said in a statement Thursday.

Smith joined Hyundai in October 2017 and led several major product launches, including the Palisade three-row crossover and the redesigned Sonata sedan. He spent much of his career at Toyota and Lexus.

“Brian is an admired leader who helped Hyundai at a critical time for the organization, and I would like to thank him for his hard work and dedication to the brand,” said Jose Muñoz, CEO of Hyundai Motor North America.

Muñoz took over the top North America job for the Korean automaker 14 months ago. Since then, several prominent executives have left the company and new ones have joined as Muñoz assembles his management team.

Smith took the Hyundai job after retiring as vice president of retail transformation at Toyota, just after the Japanese automaker finished moving its North America headquarters from Southern California to Texas.

Before the retail transformation post, Smith was vice president of Lexus marketing. He spent 35 years with Toyota.

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