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Steve Wilhite, COO of Hyundai Motor America, expected the carmaker to sell more than 555,000 vehicles in American in 2007. It's unlikely that's going to happen -- the number now is 510,000 -- and it's thought missing this goal is why Wilhite announced his resignation today.

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Hyundai may soon begin offering oil-burners in the US market instead of hybrids. According to Hyundai COO Steve Wilhite, getting diesels into US Hyundai models are his highest personal priority. Wilhite would like to see diesels available in all of Hyundai's US models and considers them a more elegant solution than hybrids which add a great deal of complexity to a vehicle.

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Shape up or ship out seems to be the message that Hyundai is sending to 50 of its worst performing dealers. Automotive News is reporting that Hyundai Motor America COO Steve Wilhite sent a "strongly worded" letter to 50 'chronic underachievers.' Poor sales and customer service is at the heart of Wilhite's threats: "We're giving them six months to correct the mistakes. If they can, we're thrilled to have them. If they can't, we want them to turn in their franchises."

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