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From M to N: Hyundai snares another BMW performance executive

By Barry Park, 01 Mar 2018 Industry

Hyundai snares another BMW performance executive

BMW M sales executive Thomas Schemera jumps ship to head a new Hyundai performance division

HYUNDAI appears to have the number for BMW’s M performance powerhaus on speed dial.

After luring long-time BMW M chief engineer Albert Biermann to the Korean car maker’s N sub-brand in 2015 in a huge coup for the fledgling group, it has now snared another top M exec, Thomas Schemera.

Schemera was one of Biermann’s brand-building team at BMW M. Now, he will head up a newly created division within Hyundai, working with his former boss but with a focus on high-performance vehicle and motorsport businesses.

“The high-performance vehicle and motorsport division, which was launched effective March, will streamline Hyundai’s strategy, product planning, sales and marketing capabilities for high performance vehicle operations to maximise synergy between headquarters and the company’s motorsport arm, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, to further develop the high performance vehicle business,” the press release announcing the appointment said.

“Since the company’s foray into high performance vehicles in 2012, Hyundai Motor has steadily expanded its global presence in this field,” it said. “Last year, the company launched the high-performance N line-up with the i30 N model, followed by the Veloster N’s world premiere at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year.”

The appointment spells out big ambitions for Hyundai, and a potential expansion for the N badge beyond its Veloster and i30 hatchback line-up. Hyundai has made no secret of the fact that it wants to further expand customers’ choices for fun-to-drive models.

Schemera, who has also filled a senior sales and marketing roles at BMW M, brings a strong skill set to Hyundai. He’s studied mechanical and industrial engineering and economics, and has gained valuable experience expanding the M brand into global markets – everything a burgeoning performance brand needs.

His role at Hyundai will run to overseeing strategy, product planning, sales and marketing for the new business unit – the High Performance Vehicle Motorsport Division – which will mark today, March 1, 2018 as the date it was formed.

“Thomas Schemera is one of the most renowned experts in the high performance vehicle business with experience in all of the world’s major markets,” Biermann (pictured below), who remains president and head of Hyundai’s performance development and high-performance vehicle development divisions, said.

“I am excited he is joining us and I’m confident that his participation will help put Hyundai’s high performance vehicle business onto the fast track.”

Hyundai is believed to be developing a range of “N Sport” products – a range of aerodynamic and suspension tweaks that dial up the dynamics – for release later this year. The idea of a halfway-step performance badge follows a similar model to BMW, which provides M Sport packages for its products with the aim of giving them “M-lite” mild performance updates.

Mercedes-Benz has done a similar thing with its Mercedes-AMG performance badge, rolling out suspension and aerodynamic packages that add visual spice to cooking models, as well as some performance gains.