Lead Ford Focus RS Engineer Headed to Hyundai as Brand Looks to Performance Models: Report
This acquisition is seemingly yet another step toward Hyundai's reported halo model that could be a full-bore supercar.
Update, April 12: A Hyundai spokesperson confirmed to The Drive that Tyrone Johnson has indeed been brought aboard the Korean automaker. Contrary to previous reports, this is not a new development, as Johnson was hired last August, and he will not be directly replacing Albert Biermann in his former role of Head of Vehicle Integration in Europe. In his position as a team leader for vehicle testing and development, Johnson's primary duty is to bring Hyundai products in line with European buyers' desires, not exclusively to develop performance models. Original article below.
Tyrone Johnson, formerly the vehicle engineering manager for Ford Performance, has reportedly taken a job with Hyundai-Kia. Johnson was the lead man for developing the beloved Ford Focus RS, and now, it seems as if Hyundai may be putting him to work on a go-fast megastar of its own.
According to Autocar, Johnson has assumed the position of Head of Vehicle Integration, filling a hole left by Albert Biermann when he ascended to a lead role in Hyundai's research and development wing.
Biermann formerly headed BMW's sporting "M" division and has been instrumental in Hyundai's campaign to increase its sporting credibility with car enthusiasts. He helped kickstart Hyundai's "N" performance sub-brand with the well-received Veloster N, i30 N, and soon, a possible 340-horsepower Tucson N. Biermann also influenced the Kia Stinger GT as well as the most approachable model of Hyundai's premium marque Genesis, the G70.
As Biermann's successor, Johnson will have big shoes to fill, but his portfolio from Ford Performance makes him look capable of the job. Where and when his influence will be first seen isn't certain, though it's likely that Johnson will at least in some way be involved in Hyundai's halo car project, whose existence was confirmed in 2018 by the company's Executive Vice President of High Performance Vehicles, Thomas Schemera. Schemera has described the model as an "exotic" vehicle that will be "in the super sports segment," meaning it'll be a supercar. He pointed to a mid-engined Hyundai concept car called the RM16 N as an example of what Hyundai could do, so it's reasonable to expect whatever's in the works to be a two-seater supercar.