The parent company has changed, but Kia Motors America Inc. continues down the same path, albeit with a new leader.
Dealers at the Kia make meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention were introduced to Ahn Byung-Mo, the new CEO of Kia Motors America. Ahn comes from Hyundai Motor Co., which purchased Kia Motors Corp. last year, pulling the Korean company out of bankruptcy.
Ahn said the Hyundai takeover will not result in many changes at Kia. He said Kia and Hyundai officials will look at combining best practices from each company.
'I think (Ahn) is no-nonsense, a real businessman,' said Terry Petersen, owner of Reno Mazda-Kia in Reno, Nev. Petersen is the Kia dealer council chairman.
'Everybody's just glad to know the bankruptcy is over,' he said.
Kia dealers also are looking forward to new product. Dick Macedo, executive vice president of marketing and sales, promised them the new Sedona minivan and a yet-to-be-named compact car for the 2001 model year. Macedo said a long-body version of the Sportage sport-utility also could come out that model year with a V-6 engine.
Despite problems at Kia in Korea, the company sold nearly 83,000 vehicles in the United States in 1998 and has met its goal of 500 dealers in 49 states. Macedo wants higher sales and 565 Kia dealers by the end of 1999.
As for Hyundai, Macedo agrees with Ahn that little will change. Although he has met with his counterparts at Hyundai Motor America socially, they will not be working together.