Other Key Personnel
Gilbert Castillo is the senior group manager of advanced vehicle strategy at Hyundai Motor America. He is responsible for the company’s exploration into new vehicle segments, including those with alternative powertrain technologies. He also is responsible for the strategic planning for the company’s future line of vehicles in the United States. Castillo led the successful introduction and launch of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle, the first production fuel cell vehicle sold in the United States.
Castillo joined Hyundai in 2012 from Honda R&D Americas, where he worked in the areas of vehicle research and design and strategic vehicle development. Prior to joining Honda, he worked for Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.
Castillo graduated from Stanford University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Product Design Engineering.
He is married and has two children. Castillo can often be found on weekends driving, both for work and pleasure, on the back roads of Southern California in a variety of vehicles, including his classic Alfa Romeo Spider.
Mark Dipko is a 22-year automotive veteran and is currently director of corporate planning at Hyundai Motor America, where he and his team are responsible for the product, brand and business strategies which guide the U.S. operations.
Dipko is guided by the belief that the status quo is never sufficient and has combined his engineering expertise, customer insight and a strategic mind to be an agent of change at every stage of his career.
Dipko joined Hyundai in 2008 as product manager of small cars. Since then, he has led the development of products like the innovative Veloster, vehicle launch strategies for products like the breakthrough Sonata, world-first technologies like the button-less eye-tracking HMI in the HCD-14 Genesis Concept and marketing programs including the Equus’ industry-first iPad and valet services.
Dipko’s career started in 1994 as an intern at Ford Powertrain while earning a bachelor’s of mechanical engineering at Penn State. He held positions in Advanced Powertrain and Mustang Calibration before switching to Ford’s acclaimed Special Vehicle Team (SVT) to lead the 2000 Cobra R and 2003 Cobra chassis development. Along the way, he earned his master’s degree in automotive engineering from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Forever in search of a challenge, he left Ford to earn his MBA in Marketing from Arizona State, leading him to Yamaha Motorcycles, where he was responsible for developing the current U.S. brand strategy and the launch of the Star Motorcycles brand of cruisers.
Dipko grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and currently resides in Southern California with his wife and son
Michael Evanoff is a manager of product planning for Hyundai Motor America, where he has been responsible for the lifecycle planning for the best-selling Elantra, Elantra GT, Veloster and Accent since he joined the company in 2012.
Prior to working for Hyundai, Evanoff spent time at Mitsubishi Motors North America. At Mitsubishi, he was a manager of product planning, overlooking the lifecycle planning for the automaker’s sedans and sporty cars. Before he was a product planner, he held the role of senior specialist of aftersales at Mitsubishi. In this role, he was charged with customer retention and customer service initiatives. Evanoff started his automotive career at The Automotive Group, managing fixed operations for the automotive retail company.
Evanoff received his bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Michigan, Dearborn.
Mircea Gradu, Ph.D., joined Hyundai Motor America in May 2014 as director of engineering and quality. Gradu leads the development and implementation of product strategy to improve both the initial quality of Hyundai models and vehicle durability.
Gradu has more than 22 years of experience, most recently serving as vice president and head of transmission powertrain and driveline engineering for Chrysler Group LLC.
He started his automotive career at Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart, Germany and transitioned into other key executive roles within the automotive space including Schaeffler Group and The Timken Company.
Gradu’s distinguished career includes being the recipient of the 2008 Edward Cole Award for Automotive Innovation, the 2005 Forest McFarland Award and the SAE-Timken Howard Simpson Innovation Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Gradu was appointed SAE Fellow in 2011. He served as vice president of SAE International - Automotive Sector from 2010 to 2012.
Gradu was listed among the 50 most influential automotive executives in 2012 by Motor Trend, and credited with the revival of the rear-wheel-drive automotive platforms through the introduction of the novel and fuel efficient transmission solutions.
He was awarded 56 patents on mechatronic automotive systems, published over 40 papers and held seminars or offered presentations at IEEE, SAE, TOPTEC, VDI and IFToMM events.
Gradu holds a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Stuttgart, Germany and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest.
He enjoys classic car driving and restoration, travel and outdoor recreation, including mountain biking, skiing and kiteboarding.
Joining Hyundai Motor America in 2013, Trevor Lai is a manager of product planning, where he is responsible for the company’s crossovers Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport and Tucson. In this role, he studies consumer trends related to the CUV market in the United States, evaluates competitive vehicles to ensure that Hyundai CUVs have the highest quality of materials, workmanship and features, and ensures the smooth integration of innovative technology that helps with day-to-day life of a CUV owner.
Prior to working for Hyundai, Lai was the manager of product planning for SUV/CUV/LT tires for Toyo Tires USA, Corp. He also held numerous roles at Nissan North America, Inc. from 2002-2012, including manager of product planning for the Nissan Altima and NISMO Juke, manager of specialty vehicles group, planner of product planning for the Nissan Frontier, specialist of product planning for the Nissan Altima and Maxima, and specialist of consumer affairs.
Lai received his bachelor’s in international business from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
Scott Margason has served as Hyundai Motor America’s director of product planning since 2006. In this role, he is responsible for leading Hyundai’s product planning in the United States, as well as overseeing the product management and cross-carline planning teams. Margason works closely with Hyundai Motor America’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Company, to develop product plans. He also communicates product information and plans to other departments within Hyundai Motor America, Hyundai’s agencies and to the media. Margason has held the jobs of national manager of product planning and manager of product planning since joining Hyundai in 2000. Previously to Hyundai, he worked for Mazda Motor America in accessory development and product planning. Margason holds a bachelor’s in political science from Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
Brandon Ramirez is a senior group manager of product planning at Hyundai Motor America. In this role, he is responsible for leading product development and planning, market launches and life-cycle management for all Hyundai product offerings in the United States. With more than 15 years of experience specializing in automotive product development, Ramirez’s areas of expertise include developing target customer definition, competitive analysis, market trends, product planning, pricing analysis and business case development. Since joining Hyundai in 2004, he has served as the small car product manager overseeing Accent, the best-selling Elantra and Veloster. Notably under his leadership, the 2012 Elantra won the automotive industry’s most prestigious accolade, the North American Car of the Year. Ramirez has also worked on advanced product planning projects and CUVs during his tenure at Hyundai.
John Shon is the senior manager of product planning for Hyundai Motor America. He has been in a management role since 2010, and is responsible for the product planning and lifecycle management of the Sonata family of mid-size cars, including the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid, and full-size sedan Azera. He also manages and coordinates the product development process with Hyundai Motor America’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Company, where he develops product strategies, establishes target buyers, provides direction for exterior and interior design, determines vehicle specifications and trim levels, substantiates sales volume, and proposes vehicle pricing.
Since joining Hyundai in 2006, Shon has held the positions as assistant manager of product planning, and senior associate of corporate strategy and market insights. In these roles, he assisted in managing research projects, defined research objectives, managed supplier relationships, determined methodology, analyzed results, and drew strategic business and product implications.
Shon earned his bachelor’s in economics from the University of California, Irvine, and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.