Normally, when one thinks of ‘Bloody Sunday’, Selma, Alabama, which is approximately 50 miles outside the state capital, Montgomery, comes to mind.
However, just over a month ago, the city of Selma, also known as the birthplace of the Voting Rights Movement, was infused with some new energy, a personal visit by black car designer Andre Hudson. Hudson, in case you weren’t aware, is responsible for designing the current-generation, hot-selling Sonata. Yes, this vehicle looks like it was influenced by a person of color, with its free-flowing sexy lines. Hudson also had a hand in designing the Sonata’s little sister, the Elantra, both which are being built at Hyundai’s Manufacturing Plant in Montgomery.
Hudson and I teamed-up for what would be considered a first in the auto industry. We decided to take the auto industry literally to school. This was achieved by spending a few days with the students of Selma High School, inspiring them to enlarge their vision as it relates to finding their calling, while at the same time educating them about the financial (and social mechanics) of selecting the right vehicle by looking beyond, the design, the price and the payments from my copyrighted car-buying literacy clinic. Thanks to Hudson’s commitment to education we were able to make this happen.
Also due to Hudson adding a splash of swag-appeal to the once conservative styled Sonata, the midsize family sedan now ranks up there in sales with the Camry and the Altima. In fact, the ultra-popular 2013 redesigned Altima was delayed, according to Nissan officials, in order to make sure it was on par with Hudson’s stylishly designed Sonata. Now, this is a first! It’s definitely a sign of the times, when folks are looking to Hyundai for design cues.
Moreover, the two vehicles in which Hudson has had a hand in designing, which are both being built in Montgomery, helped to put a lot of folks to work in this volatile economy (and foremost have made a boat load of money for the Korean automaker, their dealers and their suppliers). It was reported recently that the Montgomery auto plant will be adding a third-shift soon, employing at minimum 800 more folks.
So, not only has Hudson’s ‘keen eye for design’ afforded opportunities in the state with both the plant employees, which are mainly being built by people of color, he’s also affected the livelihood of the Korean automaker suppliers too, both in Alabama and around the globe.
Furthermore, having Hudson in town, connecting with the young brothers and sisters at the predominately African American high school will help to reshape the students’ image of African American males. So many times the media only focus on the negative aspects of this population group. Hudson’s presence shows what can be done, when you’re truly living out your dreams.
Besides that, unlike the handful of other black auto designers in the industry, which is an extremely competitive field, Hudson became the first one to work for a Korean automotive company, after leaving GM under the leadership of Ed Welburn, who helped to pave the way for today’s handful of young African American car designers. Also earlier this year Hudson had a hand in hiring the Hyundai’s second African American designer.
Nevertheless, due to this and other factors, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, was proclaimed as ‘Andre Hudson Day,’ by Mayor Evans and the city of Selma, a well-deserved honor indeed.
So, the next time you pass the current-generation Sonata, Elantra and the Genesis Coupe and the redesigned Azera on the road, remember the name Andre Hudson. He’s the extremely cool, young brother that makes the community extremely proud to be behind the wheel of this Korean brand. To check out Hudson’s live video interview, recapping his historic visit to Selma, Alabama, click here.
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.