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New chief for Kia in Australia

New chief: Kia Motors Australia has a new president and CEO, Sang-Hyun (SH) Cho.

SH Cho takes reins at Kia Motors Australia as Charlie Kim tackles new job in Korea

Kia logo13 Jan 2014

KIA Motors Australia has announced the appointment of Sang-Hyun (SH) Cho as its new president and CEO.

Replacing Chongwoo (Charlie) Kim, who had been in the top job at the South Korean brand’s Australian subsidiary since November 2011, Mr Cho has worked for Kia since 1990 and brings to the position high-level international management experience.

This includes four years each as president and CEO of Kia Motors Poland (1999-2003) and co-ordinating director for Kia Motors Europe (2003-2007).

Most recently, Mr Cho, 50, has spent the past three years in charge of the corporate planning team for the entire Hyundai Motor Group, having previously served as head of the export planning team for the International Business Division of Kia Motors Corporation from 2007 to 2010.

“Kia Motors in Australia has displayed significant growth over the last few years and I am excited, honoured and very pleased that the opportunity to continue and expand on this growth has been given to me,” said Mr Cho, who officially started last week.

“There are significant challenges facing our industry, but with those challenges come opportunity and I am looking forward to working with the KMAu team in a market as vibrant and challenging as this one.”

Mr Kim, meanwhile, has returned to Seoul to lead the export planning team at Kia’s International Business Division – the same position held by Mr Cho late last decade.

Mr Kim has more than 23 years’ experience across several continents and rose to the top job at Kia Motors Australia in 2011 after spending the previous two years as co-ordinating director for sales at the company.

Prior to moving to Australia, Mr Kim was general manager for the Middle East and Africa (based in Seoul), a position he held after spending four years in Europe as co-ordinating director for sales at Kia Germany from 2002 to 2006. He joined Hyundai/Kia in 1989.

VFACTS figures released last week show that Kia’s sales slipped below 30,000 units in 2013 (29,778 new registrations), marking a 3.2 per cent decline over 2012 after several years of strong growth.

Its biggest-selling models last year were Rio (9160) and Sportage (6348) – up 16 and 49 per cent respectively – while the all-important Cerato small car fell 27 per cent to 5785 units, despite a new-generation sedan variant launching in April last year.

The company was, however, required to wait until August to launch a five-door hatch version of the redesigned small car – a body style that is expected to account for more than two-thirds of all Cerato sales – and will be anticipating stronger volume in 2014 for the range as a whole.

As GoAuto has reported, Mr Kim had his sights set on a five per cent share of the Australian new-vehicle market, although Kia managed only 2.6 per cent last year (down from 2.8 per cent a year earlier).

Based on last year’s industry sales, and the expectation of a flat market in 2014, Kia will need to sell around 55,000 vehicles this year to achieve its five per cent goal.

On a global level, figures released late last week show that Kia sold 2,746,643 vehicles worldwide in 2013, for a 1.4 per cent year-on-year increase.

Its overseas sales were up 2.7 per cent, to 2.288 million, with growth of 12.7 per cent in China (577,386 units), 3.4 per cent in Western/Eastern Europe (590,210) and 0.8 per cent in ‘general’ markets (513,419) which combine Central/South America, the Caribbean, Asia (excluding China and Korea), the Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Its bestselling model in overseas markets last year was the Rio with 470,766 units sold, followed by the Sportage with 389,698 units. Cerato was next best on 376,322, with Optima and Sorento following on 255,383 and 200,891 units respectively.

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