Kia hires Bill Peffer to fill long-vacant sales job

on Jul1

Peffer, 46, moves to the long-vacant sales role at Kia from New England dealership group Balise Motor Sales.

LOS ANGELES — Kia Motors America is adding another industry veteran to its executive ranks with the hiring of former Cadillac sales chief Bill Peffer as its vice president of sales.

The move, effective July 24, comes just two months after Kia hired marketing guru Saad Chehab as its chief marketing officer.

Peffer, 46, comes to the long-vacant sales role at Kia from the New England dealership group Balise Motor Sales, where he’s been president since 2014. Before that, he had a 10-month stint as Cadillac’s head of sales after leaving Nissan Australia as its CEO. He has also worked for Ford Motor Co.

“Bill Peffer brings vast experience and a global perspective to Kia’s U.S. operations, and we are pleased to welcome him to the team,” Justin Sohn, CEO of Kia Motors America, said in a statement. “Bill’s commitment to dealers and focus on the customer experience are a perfect fit for Kia.”

Peffer will report to Kia’s U.S. COO Michael Sprague, who last held the sales job at Kia before he was promoted to his current post in 2015.

In his new role, Peffer will need to navigate selling a lineup of vehicles that’s heavy on cars in a light truck-friendly market. Kia’s sales are down 9.8 percent this year through May to 239,593 units. It sold a record 647,598 vehicles in 2016.

Accolades such as two consecutive wins as J.D. Power’s top automaker for the Initial Quality Study have helped. The onetime budget brand is also on the cusp of new territory with the coming launch of its Stinger sport sedan. A large luxury SUV based on the Telluride concept from the 2016 Detroit auto show is also widely expected to join the Kia lineup in the near future.

Kia hired Chehab in April, hoping he can spark interest in the brand’s new upward direction. Chehab is best known for his work with the Chrysler brand earlier this decade, including the “Born of Fire” spot from the 2011 Super Bowl showcasing Detroit and featuring Eminem.

Balise, headquartered in West Springfield, Mass., ranks No. 57 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 16,906 new vehicles in 2016.

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