Kia Motors Plans Overseas Business Reorganization

Kia Motors Corporation suffering from flat sales in the U.S. so far this year is making organizational changes within its overseas operations. Following other Asian companies, the Korean company will give greater autonomy to each region to “spur sustainable growth and enhance innovation.” As a first step in its global business reorganization, the company has launched Kia Motors North America Headquarters and Kia Motors Europe Headquarters, effective 2 July.

Kia’s U.S. May sales of 59,462 vehicles, were a +1.6% increase over the same period last year and the brand’s highest monthly sales total in 2018. May sales were led by the Forte and Sorento, with 11,261 and 10,370 units sold, respectively. In addition, the Stinger fastback sports sedan set a monthly sales record with 1,761 units sold in May. Sales in the U.S. year­-to-date are ~236,000 or flat. Kia is also vulnerable to Trump tariff tirades, and it therefore might be facing years of slow growth, if any. In Europe, where Kia is a sales footnote, KIA’s sales of  214,000 YTD are up 5% on a tiny base. (Read on: Kia Motors to Build $1 Billion Plant in Mexico, NAFTA Strikes Again as Kia Opens Pesquería Mexico Plant)

More overseas markets will become regional headquarters as Kia wants to complete its global reorganization by 2019. These changes are part of last October’s restructuring at Kia’s headquarters in Seoul, which saw the establishment of a Global Operations Division.

Each regional unit’s responsibilities will extend to product planning, marketing, sales, and manufacturing. It will operate with greater integration, to actively respond to rapidly evolving market trends and customers’ needs – or at least that’s the hope. Each regional headquarters will also have functional divisions for planning, finance, products and customer experience, so it can secure and optimize more effective decision-making systems within each region.

The newly-launched Kia Motors North America Headquarters will encompass Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia and Kia Motors Mexico (manufacturing), the company’s production hubs for the Americas, and three sales units – Kia Motors America, Kia Motors Canada and Kia Motors Mexico (sales). The newly established regional headquarters will be led by executive vice president Byung-kwon Rhim.

Kia Motors Europe Headquarters will expand Kia Motors Europe (HME)’s current role beyond sales operations, bringing under its wing Kia Motors Slovakia (KMS). Yong-kew Park, who is currently senior vice president for European Operations Division at corporate headquarters, will be promoted to executive vice president to lead the unit.

Kia Motors

Kia Motors Corporation ( was founded in 1944 and is Korea’s oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. About 3 million Kia vehicles a year are produced at 14 manufacturing and assembly operations in five countries which are then sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering around 180 countries. Kia today has over 51,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of over US$47 billion. It is the major sponsor of the Australian Open and an official automotive partner of FIFA – the governing body of the FIFA World Cup. Kia Motors Corporation’s brand slogan – “The Power to Surprise” – represents the company’s global commitment to surprise the world.


About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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