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(April 3, 2001) -- Dick Macedo, executive vice president-sales and marketing at Kia Motors America, in Irvine, Calif., denied he's being forced out at the South Korean car importer.

"It's just a rumor," he told

Kia announced today it sold a record 19,159 vehicles in March, or 51% more than a year ago. But an executive close to the situation said Macedo's Korean bosses were disappointed because they wanted a 70% increase in sales.

"I missed the goal," Mr. Macedo conceded, but he would not confirm the 70% sales figure.

Mr. Macedo is one of the seven original U.S. executives with Kia Motors America since its formation. He joined Kia in 1993 from Wells Rich Greene BDDP/West, where he was president. He and two of the original seven Americans remain.

A Kia spokesman didn't return calls. B.M. Ahn, president-CEO of Kia, was unavailable for comment.

Mr. Macedo was honored in 1996 by Advertising Age's Marketing 100 for Kia's succesful U.S. roll-out from a regional to national player. The brand has enjoyed rising sales in recent years.

Mr. Macedo joined Kia after years of working at car ad agencies. He worked at William Esty/West, from 1985 to 1987 on Nissan, and from 1982 to 1985 at Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., on Chevrolet. -- Jean Halliday

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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