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Hyundai Names Head of North America Units

Sales, production and finance divisions will report to a single person for the first time.

September 16, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Hyundai Motor Co. on Friday named Jae Il Kim to a new post overseeing all sales, production and finance units in North America, after shaking up its U.S. management this year.

Kim, 57, becomes group executive president for Hyundai Motor America and will be based in Fountain Valley, home to the U.S. sales unit, the South Korean automaker said. The 29-year Hyundai Motor veteran had been senior executive vice president for its international division.

Hyundai Motor is making the change after its January appointment of Ok Suk Koh to replace U.S. sales chief Bob Cosmai. Last month, it named Steve Wilhite, who had been Nissan Motor Co.'s global marketing chief, as its U.S. chief operating officer. Hyundai Motor almost doubled its U.S. sales in the last five years to 455,012 cars and light trucks in 2005.

"It makes perfect sense to have one person over North America, given how important it is for Hyundai," said Jim Sanfilippo, an industry analyst at Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

One concern might be whether executives heading the units Kim oversees will retain enough authority to run them, Sanfilippo said.

The position was created to simplify coordination of the Seoul-based company's operations in the region, with all North American units reporting to a single person for the first time, spokesman Chris Hosford said.

Along with the sales and finance companies in Fountain Valley, Kim will oversee Hyundai's U.S. plant in Montgomery, Ala., and Hyundai Auto Canada, based in Markham, Ontario.

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