- The factory is in a round-the-clock operation for the production of Carnival
- Turning out 36 units per hour.
Kia Motor says that the orders for its mini-van Carnival and compact-sized car Rio are rushing in nowadays, and it has consequently devised for an extraordinary system of operation, making the factory operate for 24 hours a day.
Last May, Kia’s Carnival became the first Korean mini-van to be introduced to the U.S. market, showing a rapid increase in sales (664 in June, 794 in July, and 3,732 in August). Currently more than 4,000 units are on the waiting list for production, it says. The number of those on the waiting list has increased to more than 11,000 when adding the orders from other parts of the world.
An official at Kia attributes the popularity of its mini-van Carnival to its new aggressive overseas marketing as well as to the fact that Kia minivans compare favorably with other carmakers’ models in the same category, such as Windstar (of Ford), Caravan (of GM’s Dodge) or Odyssey (of Honda) in terms of design, performance, and price.
Furthermore, its compact car Rio also posts a rapid increase in sales after it proved to be the safest car in the same category in a collision test (whose result was announced by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation of the Korean Government), in which it acquired three stars in score with no air-bags attached either in the driver seat nor the passenger seat. It is making a whirlwind in sales in the small-sized car market by posting more than 1,800 on the waiting list as of September 20, compared to about 1,500 in the monthly sales in July and August.
Rio’s success in sales is more noticeable in the offshore market. In 2000, the first year of export, more than 75,000 were sold, and over 77,400 units were sold in the period up to August 2001. It was of note that, in the month of August alone, 11,400 Rio’s were exported to North American and Western Europe, pushing aside Sepia as Kia’s number one seller in the offshore market.
Encouraged by such strong performance of its Carnival and Rio both at home and abroad, Kia started a full-fledged operation of its production line and recently expanded the production capacity. Taking the production for Rio, for example, the carmaker expanded its production capacity to 160,000 per year.
Kia recently upgraded its productivity in the Carnival production line to a great extent as well, increasing the UPH (units per hour) to 36 from 30. As a result, its annual production capacity is now increased to 160,000 from 127,000. An official at the Kia factory in Sohari said, “We are being pressured by the rapidly increasing demand for Carnival. We plan to make up for the production shortage by utilizing all possible means including overtime.”
President Kim Noi-myung of Kia Motors said at a recent officers’ meeting, “We must leave no stone unturned to meet the rapidly increasing demand at home and abroad through a well-balanced coordination between the sales activities in both Korea and overseas. Drastic improvement in the production system must also be dealt with on a priority basis.”