* Resignation is 3rd executive change in 3 months
* Hyundai tracking toward 4th straight year of profit falls
* Analysts expect it to miss global sales target
* Execs nervous ahead of year-end management reshuffle
(Add exec comments)
By David Shepardson and Hyunjoo Jin
WASHINGTON/SEOUL, Dec 21 Hyundai Motor Co's
top U.S. executive Dave Zuchowski has resigned
effective immediately, in the latest shake-up of the South
Korean automaker's management ranks as it tracks toward its
fourth consecutive year of profit declines.
The abrupt resignation comes after the replacement of
Hyundai Motor's sales chief in South Korea and its China head
over the past three months, and as the firm looks likely to miss
global sales targets for the second year running.
Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors, together the
world's fifth-largest automaker by sales, once set the global
pace but have been hit by a slowdown in emerging markets and the
industry's shift away from its mainstay sedans.
Hyundai Motor spokesman Chris Hosford declined to comment on
a report in trade publication Automotive News that Zuchowski was
fired for failing to meet sales objectives.
Hyundai Motor and Kia aim to increase their combined global
sales by 1.5 percent to 8.13 million vehicles in 2016. While
Hyundai's U.S. sales are up 2 percent through November, they are
dominated by lower-margin smaller sedans rather than more
"Major loss for Hyundai and it's dealers," said Scott Fink,
a Hyundai Motor dealer in the United States, referring to
Hyundai Motor America said Zuchowski has been replaced on an
interim basis by the company's general counsel, W. Gerald
"A search for Zuchowski's replacement will begin
immediately," it added.
The shake-up comes ahead of Hyundai Motor Group's year-end
management reshuffle, expected shortly after Christmas.
"The keyword for this year is a survival," one Hyundai Motor
executive told Reuters.
The Korean Business Daily reported on Tuesday that Hyundai
Motor Group plans to promote fewer executives and cut its total
management headcount because of falling sales.
Executives at Hyundai Motor Group have taken a 10 percent
pay cut since October, the first such move in seven years at
South Korea's second-largest conglomerate.
A company source said Hyundai was likely to hire Zuchowski's
successor from outside the group.
Zuchowski had been chief executive of Hyundai Motor America
since 2014, having joined Hyundai in 2007. He previously worked
for Mazda Motor Corp and Ford Motor Co.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and David Shepardson; Editing by