Hyundai U.S. sales chief Hatami is out

on Jun6

Hatami, 44, was selected as an Automotive News Rising Star last year.

LOS ANGELES — Derrick Hatami, who rejoined Hyundai Motor America as its U.S. sales chief in 2015 after a brief stint at Nissan, is leaving the company, effective immediately.

His departure was announced to Hyundai employees and dealers on Tuesday.

Hatami’s decision to depart follows the December 2016 firing of Hyundai’s U.S. CEO, Dave Zuchowski, and comes on the heels of a tough May for the South Korean automaker, in which Hyundai brand sales dropped 18 percent to 58,259 units. For the year, sales are down 7.5 percent to 283,547 units. The brand’s U.S. light-vehicle sales have dropped six straight months year over year. Those numbers exclude the new Genesis luxury division, which has sold 8,306 units this year.

Hatami, 44, oversaw both the Hyundai and Genesis brands.

Hyundai’s numbers have been hampered by a shift away from fleet sales, without an offsetting boost in incentive or marketing spending. Also weighing down Hyundai is a car-heavy product mix and tight production capacity for the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport crossovers.

Hyundai said it would begin a search for Hatami’s successor immediately. In the interim, it said, Sam Brnovich, Hyundai’s southern regional general manager, “will support the overall sales organization.”

“Derrick served the company well during his time as head of sales and we wish him nothing but success,” Hyundai said in a statement to Automotive News.

Hatami, who was selected as an Automotive News Rising Star last year, joined Hyundai in 2005 and worked his way up to general manager of the western region. He left in January 2014 to become Nissan’s sales chief, a role he held until September 2015, when he returned to Hyundai to replace Bob Pradzinski as vice president of sales.

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