Kim's task is tough: Find new demand for vehicles churned out by GM Korea's four assembly plants and work with an oft-contentious union to rein in costs.
"My years of experience in the IT industry provide the company a different perspective in terms of its business and sales," Kim said in a written reply to questions from Automotive News. "My previous experience is also important as the entire automotive industry heads into a new era of mobility where information technology is crucially required."
GM Korea lost one of its reasons for being when headquarters decided in late 2013 to pull the plug on Chevrolet in Europe. In recent years, GM Korea's assembly plants have accounted for as much as 20 percent of GM's worldwide sales volume. But Chevy's European retreat saddled GM Korea with excess capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year.
By boosting sales in Korea and finding new export markets, Rocha helped recoup some of that volume. For example, GM Korea now exports the Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore subcompact cross-overs and the Chevrolet Spark minicar to the U.S.
But its factories are still running far below their combined straight-time capacity of 758,000 vehicles a year. Indeed, exports slumped to 463,468 vehicles in 2015, from a record 828,144 in 2007.
On the plus side, GM Korea's domestic sales climbed 2.6 percent to a record 158,404 in 2015. Sales are on pace for another record in 2016, rising 21 percent to 101,139 through July, the company said.
Domestic sales have been helped by the launch of the redesigned Spark hatchback and Malibu sedan, both of which are manufactured locally, and by importing the Impala sedan and Camaro sports car. GM Korea is widening its offering of Cadillacs with the addition of the XT5 crossover and CT6 sedan this month.
The goal, Kim said, is to boost local market share into the double digits this year and keep it there. GM's share of a South Korean market dominated by homegrown giants Hyundai and Kia was 9.5 percent through July, the company said. GM Korea achieved an all-time high market share of 10.7 percent in 2006.