Orange County Business Journal

Hyundai Sales Rising With Gas Prices; UCI-China Linkup

Rick Reiff Sunday, June 5, 2011

Who’s afraid of $4-a-gallon gas? Not John Krafcik, CEO of Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America. “Bring it on, baby,” Krafcik said on “Inside OC.” U.S. car sales were off 3.7% in May, but Hyundai, with its lineup of fuel-efficient cars, was up 20.7%, setting a sales record for the fifth consecutive month. Auto buyers “need to think more about fuel efficiency, and frankly, we like that,” he said. South Korean-owned Hyundai is in growth mode, building a new Fountain Valley HQ and spending $173 million to expand its Alabama engine plant. That will help with what Krafcik says is the company’s biggest problem: “We can’t meet the demand” …

Despite all its advertising, some folks still don’t know that Hyundai rhymes with Sunday. Krafcik said his mom is among those who still struggles with the name …

Hyundai’s affiliate, Irvine-based Kia Motors America, had an even better May percentagewise, with sales up 53.4% …

It’s hard to keep up with OC’s globe-trotting universities. Two weeks ago the Insider reported on Chapman U’s plans to partner on a 5,000-student campus in Zhuhai, China. Now UCI is partnering with Fudan University in Shanghai to establish what officials describe as the first bilateral U.S.-China think tank on business and the law. “We are now at a unique moment in history in which it is especially important to develop ties between China and the U.S. in business and law,” said UCI Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. The institute will have facilities on both university campuses and be headed by UCI Merage B-school Professor Emeritus John Graham. The UCI side will be named for real estate investor and Chinese immigrant John S. Long (El Segundo-based Highridge Partners) and wife Marilyn, who are donating $5 million to the project …

OC Republican operatives Scott Baugh and Michael Schroeder, among others, aren’t supporting him this time around, but GOP prez “frontrunner” Mitt Romney still has substantial financial backing here. Glenn and Mindy Stearns are hosting Romney at their Newport Coast mansion June 23; the $1,000-per-person “kickoff reception” is co-hosted by George and Julia Argyros, William and Willa Dean Lyon, John and Christy Clarey and Steve and Susi Samuelian …

Scharrell Talley Jackson, the African-American CFO of Newport Beach accounting firm Squar, Milner, had a little fun with OC stereotypes at the OCBJ Women in Business awards. She said it was an honor “just to be nominated,” adding, “In case, you guys didn’t notice, I’m a sistah” (see story, page 1) …

Harlem educator Geoffrey Canada, featured in the provocative documentary “Waiting For Superman,” and movie hunk Matthew McConaughey will speak at Think Together’s annual dinner Saturday at the Anaheim Hilton. Info at www.thinktogetherbenefit.org …

John McMonigle may be down but he’s not out. The bankrupt real estate agent has teamed with Auction.com to launch M Luxury Auction.com. First online offering: An 8,200-square-foot Tuscan-style home in Newport Coast, opening price $2.5 million.