Hyundai Motor Group appointed Li Feng president of Dongfeng Yueda Kia, the struggling joint venture operated by affiliate Kia Motors in China, effective Sept. 16.
Li, a veteran of China’s auto industry, served as executive vice president of Beijing Hyundai, Hyundai’s partnership with BAIC Motor Group, from 2009 to 2013.
From 2018 until February, he was CEO of Qoros Automotive Co., a Shanghai-based small carmaker.
Dongfeng Yueda Kia, based in the east China city of Yancheng, is a three-way partnership between Kia and two Chinese companies -- Dongfeng Motor Group and local investment company Jiangsu Yueda Investment Co.
After peaking at 650,000 in 2016, the joint venture’s sales tumbled to around 359,000 in 2017 after Chinese consumers boycotted Korean products amid diplomatic disputes between Beijing and Seoul.
Dongfeng Yueda Kia has struggled to substantially revive sales in part because of an industrywide slowdown. In 2018, sales at the joint venture rose 2.8 percent to roughly 370,000.
In the first half of 2019, the joint venture’s deliveries edged up 0.8 percent to approach 163,000.
The weak sales performance and lower output forced Kia and the two partners to lease one of the joint venture’s three assembly plants in Yancheng to local electric vehicle startup Human Horizons earlier this year.
Li started his automotive career at Beiqi Foton Motor Co., BAIC’s truck subsidiary, in 1996.
From 2005 to 2008, he served as vice president of Chery Automobile Co., a state-owned automaker based in the east China city of Wuhu.