Kia Motors Corp. has named Byung Mo Ahn as its vice-chairman. He is chief executive of Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia. Ahn’s promotion makes him one of two executives – the other is Kia CEO Lee Hyoung-keun -- to hold the vice chairman post at the South Korean carmaker.
Ahn will report to Chung Mong-koo, chairman of the Hyundai Motor Group, which includes both Hyundai and Kia. A spokesman for Kia said Ahn’s promotion will not entitle him a seat on Kia’s board of directors. Ahn will still oversee Kia’s operations in the US, along with the new title of group vice chairman of KMA and KMMG, according to a Kia spokesman.
Ahn’s promotion highlights the importance of the US market to Kia, being its second-largest market next to China. Ahn’s promotion also highlights his role in Kia’s surge in the US. Ahn was appointed group president and CEO of KMA and KMMG in 2008. At the time, the carmaker’s dealers were upset about swollen inventories, dropping sales and low dealership profits.
These concerns burst like a bubble during Ahn’s tenure as Kia’s top honcho in the US. Kia saw its US sales surge from 273,397 units in 2008 to 535,179 vehicles in 2013 as it overhauled its product lineup.
Ahn was responsible for overseeing the site selection and development of Kia’s manufacturing plant in West Point, which started operations in 2009 and is now running at near full capacity building the Kia Optima, the Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. The site has built over 1.2 million vehicles since it started its operations.