Hyundai Motor Co. shareholders elected the automaker’s global COO José Muñoz to its board of directors last week in Seoul, a milestone for both Hyundai and Munoz.

Bringing the Spanish-born Muñoz onto the board is significant because he is not of Korean descent, and the move “speaks to the success he has helped achieve in North America and the trust the company has in him,” according to a spokesperson from Hyundai Motor North America.

Muñoz also is CEO of Hyundai and Genesis Motors North America and Hyundai Motor America.

Hyundai Motor North America’s success under Muñoz’s guidance helped elevate Hyundai to become the third largest automaker in the world by sales, according to the company.

Muñoz joined Hyundai in 2019 and enabled Hyundai to boost its position in the critical U.S. market during the pandemic disruption and the industry-wide supply chain problems that followed.

In three years, Hyundai rose from ninth place to fifth place in terms of sales volume in the U.S., helping North America deliver 24 percent of the automaker’s global sales. The region is now Hyundai’s largest single market.

In a statement, Muñoz called his appointment a “testament to all the hard-working women and men of Hyundai and Genesis North America that continue to deliver exceptional results, including our retail partners, technical centers and manufacturing facilities.

“On behalf of all of us at Hyundai and Genesis Motors North America, we will continue to realize the vision of the company and execute the plan,” he said.

Muñoz is a native of Spain and earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Polytechnic University of Madrid and has an MBA from Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School in Madrid.

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