Since its modest beginnings as a manufacturer of bicycle parts in 1944, Kia Motors Corporation has dedicated over half a century to the sole purpose of personal mobility. Kia’s drive to provide high quality transportation has seen it grow into a major automotive exporter with 75% of total production now devoted to overseas markets.
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 of Kia vehicles experienced a dramatic boom with the 1987 acquisition of a massive North American distribution network for the sub-compact Pride. This significant event set the stage for Kia’s continued rapid growth into a major global exporter. Kia reached 1 million cumulative vehicle exports in 1995, 2 million in 1998, 3 million in 2001 and 4 million in 2004. Amazingly, only one year after breaking the 4 million cumulative export mark, Kia celebrates its historic 5 million export milestone in 2005.
Today Kia Motors has three production facilities and one joint venture in Korea that produce approximately 1.3 million vehicles -- 760,149 units of which were exported in 2004. In recent years, Kia has placed a strong emphasis on exports, particularly after 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.
Kia Motors is now a major exporter to 160 countries throughout the world. Kia’s main export destination consists of the major markets of North America and Europe. Exports for 2004 totaled 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.
Kia Motors' remarkable success received official recognition in 2003 when the Korean Government awarded Kia with the prestigious Export Tower Award for reaching US$5 billion in export value. Further praise was bestowed upon Kia Motors in 2004 when Kia surpassed the US$7 billion mark and once again received the Export Tower Award. This latest achievement puts Kia Motors in good company, as only two other Korean companies -- Hyundai Motors and Samsung Electronics -- have accomplished this feat.
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 truly 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, the Opirus luxury sedan, C-segment Cerato, and the all-new Sportage compact SUV. These new models are receiving critical acclaim all over the world and are the fuel driving Kia Motors’ strong exports.
Moreover, since 1987, Kia Motors has taken every effort to establish a far-reaching distributor and dealer network of the highest quality that now consists of 165 distributors and almost 4,000 dealers in 160 countries. An additional 400 dealers were added in 2004, and Kia plans to increase the network by an additional 28% by 2010. Kia Motors continues to recognize the importance of its distributors and dealers, and will continue to invest in adding sales outlets of the highest standards as Kia’s exports continue to climb.
Kia Motors is on the verge of breaking into the top echelon of elite car manufacturers by using an aggressive “glocalization” strategy with production expansion in emerging China as well as with a new state-of-the-art plant in Slovakia that will be capable of producing 300,000 units for the European market from the end of 2006.
From Kia Motors’ very first export in 1975 to its 5 millionth export celebration in March of 2005, Kia has been committed to automotive excellence and is now solidly positioned to achieve the ambitious goal of becoming an elite carmaker in the years to come.