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Auto giant CEO quits over recalls

2010-09-08 09:20
Seoul, South Korea - The top executive at Kia Motors has resigned after the company recalled more than 100000 vehicles worldwide – including South Africa – over defective wiring, the automaker said Tuesday.

Chung Sung-eun, vice chairman and CEO of South Korea's number two automaker, stepped down on Friday, according to company spokesman Michael Choo.

"His resignation comes in the light of the recent global recall issued by Kia Motors," Choo said, without elaborating. He said no successor has been named. Chung was one of two Kia CEOs.

Kia Motors Corp. is an affiliate of South Korea's top auto maker Hyundai Motor Co. Together they form the world's fifth-largest automotive group.

Chung's resignation comes amid a wave of recalls that have shaken the global auto industry since Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. began calling in vehicles in October last year. The world's top automaker has recalled more than 10 million vehicles for problems including faulty petrol pedals and floor mats.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo asked Chung to step down to take responsibility for the recalls as they suggested possible quality problems.

Quality problems

Neither Choo nor Hyundai Motor spokeswoman Song Meeyoung could confirm the report.

Chung, the former Kia executive, is no relation to the Hyundai chairman, Choo said.

Early this month Kia issued a global recall totaling 104047 vehicles for a defect in electric wiring that controls mood lighting inside the car and could cause heat-related damage, according to Choo. Of that total, 35185 vehicles were recalled in the United States, he said.

Seoul-based Kia has a complex management system. Though Chung held the top rank, day-to-day operations come under the control of two presidents: Hank Lee for overseas operations and Seo Young-jong for domestic operations, according to Choo. Seo also holds the title of CEO, said Pamela Munoz, a Kia spokeswoman.

Kia, which posted a 61% surge in second-quarter net profit, manufactures vehicles in South Korea as well as at overseas plants in China, Slovakia and the U.S.

Sorentos recalled in South Africa

Kia Motors SA has confirmed that only Sorento models manufactured between September 1, 2009 and July 1, 2010 are affected locally.

"Customers will be contacted by Kia SA by our aftersales division to ask them to bring in their vehicles should their vehicle fall within the manufacture dates mentioned. The repair will take an hour and will entail the changing of the wires associated with interior illumination."

- AFP and Wheels24


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