Kia Motors Corporation today exports its 5 millionth car - further emphasising its position as not just a major global manufacturer but also as the world’s most rapidly growing automotive brand.

The 5 million mark comes just over a year after breaking the 4 million barrier but it was 10 years ago when Kia reached its first million exports. It is significant that in 2005 alone Kia expects to dispatch one million vehicles as part of its strategy to join the ranks of the world’s top automakers.

Kia marked the latest milestone with a special ceremony at its Pyeongtaek shipping berth in Korea, and in order to share the celebration Kia Motors (UK) Limited is going to donate a Sorento 2.5 CRDI from the record-breaking shipment to Oxfam, the UK-based charity that was one of the first NGOs to provide famine relief for Korean refugees at the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Kia Motors (UK) Limited Managing Director, Paul Williams said: "It is remarkable how Kia’s export business has grown when you consider that at its founding just over 60 years ago the company was making bicycles and didn’t even begin exports until 1975.

"Even here in the UK the brand was little known until the late 1990s, but since then its growth has been dramatic and this year we are set to bring 45,000 cars to the UK - a sixth consecutive year of record growth and firmly maintaining the trend that has made Kia the fastest growing brand in the UK for the last three years."

Kia now exports to 160 countries around the world and as well as its production facilities in Korea - where it is capable of building more than 1.3 million vehicles a yea - it has overseas plants in a number of countries including joint projects in China and a new factory under construction in Slovakia in the EU that will come on stream before the end of 2006 and will ultimately be able to produce 300,000 cars a year.

Kia Motors was clearly on the path to becoming a major automotive force with the establishment of the Sohari plant in 1973 - the very first fully integrated automobile production facility in Korea. The Sohari plant heralded the production of the Brisa sedan in 1974. A year later in 1975 Kia exported its first vehicle - the Brisa pickup - to the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar.

Exports for 2004 totalled 330,707 units to North America and 264,412 units to Europe. The forecast for 2005 is even brighter, with a large planned increase to the European market that will raise its annual total to 412,000 units.

This tremendous success can be attributed, first and foremost, to Kia’s commitment to improving quality and producing products that meet the needs of today’s demanding car buyers. Kia Motors set out on a new path in 2002 with the introduction of the Sorento SUV. Since then, Kia Motors has launched the A-segment Picanto, C-segment Cerato, and the all-new Sportage compact SUV.

Kia Motors joined Hyundai Motor Company in 1998 to form the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group. As a result, Kia’s export-to-domestic sales ratio has rapidly risen from 54% in 2001 to 75% as of the end of 2004.

In the UK Kia now has a network of more than 155 dealers and in 2004 set a new sales record of 33,000 vehicles. The company’s aggressive expansion plan is based on further new models expected during the next 12-18 months including an all-new Rio to compete in the important B-segment and all-new replacements for the Sedona large MPV and the Magentis family saloon next year.

Published : 26/03/05 Author : Melanie Carter

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