Kia Celebrates 10 Millionth Vehicle Export

A decade ago no one even marginally imagined that someday Korean car makers become the king of the hill, rivaling those big names with centuries of pedigree.

But they are now the most successful car makers in the world with tons of sales and an constant stream of profit even during the worst crunch times. So it’s not a surprise that Kia Motors recently marked export of their 10 millionth vehicle with a large ceremony at Kia’s main shipping hub, Pyeongtaek Port, located 80 km southwest of Seoul. The car that marked this astonishing record was a Snow White Pearl Optima sedan that was shipped to the US market.

Kia’s first exports were to Qatar in 1975, but it was a slow rate until five years ago when it got a hike as the quality, design and features of the cars were significantly improved. From 2005 to present they exported 5 million vehicles. Kia posted USD11.2 billion in exports and accounted for 2.4% of all South Korean exports in 2010.

kia optima 10milioin3 Kia Celebrates 10 Millionth Vehicle Export

To commemorate this milestone event, a celebration ceremony was held today at Pyeongtaek Port which was attended by some 400 guests including Kia Motors Vice Chairman & CEO Hyoung-Keun Lee, local government officials and numerous foreign dignitaries stationed in Korea.

Press Release:

Ever since recording South Korea’s very first automotive export in 1975, when a small quantity of Kia Brisa pick-up trucks was shipped to Qatar, Kia Motors has made a rapid, increasingly significant imprint of the global automotive industry, particularly in recent years with the introduction of a new generation of models including Picanto, Rio, Sorento, Sportage and Optima. Following the company’s cumulative five millionth export in March 2005 which took 30 years to achieve, Kia Motors was able to reach the next five million exports in just six years thanks to a focused management strategy that has resulted in rapid improvements in product design and quality as well as major enhancements in its global marketing and dealer network strengthening activities.

Speaking at the ceremony, Vice Chairman & CEO Lee said, “Today’s accomplishment would not have been possible without our loyal customers and hard working Kia employees around the world. Kia Motors vows to dedicate ourselves to the sustainable development of the global economy and the local communities in which we serve.”

In line with the rapid progress Kia has made in the global automotive industry, its worldwide footprint has also grown dramatically, with the number of countries in which Kia cars are sold increasing from 10 in the 1980’s to 156 countries today.

Since its first export in 1975, cumulative exports units have grown to 4.27 million in North America, 2.45 million in Europe and 0.88 million in the Asia & Pacific. Kia Motors has made the biggest strides in the North American market where global makers are engaged in heated competition.

By model, the A-segment Picanto is Kia’s most popular export model, with 764,453 cumulative units shipped, followed by the B-segment Rio and Sorento CUV, with 747,554 units and 656,446 units shipped, respectively.

Although Kia’s exports have been historically dominated by small vehicles, recently introduced models strategically targeted at overseas markets, such as the Sportage and Sorento CUVs and Cadenza flagship sedan, have been well received in many different regions. This trend has allowed Kia Motors to move away from its small vehicle-concentrated export situation, with the average price of Kia export models increasing significantly from USD1,400 in 1975 to USD12,000 in 2010.

Meanwhile, revenues derived from exports have risen dramatically from USD0.1 billion in 1987 to USD0.5 billion in 2003, USD1 billion in 2005 and USD11.2 billion in 2010. Last year’s export revenue of USD11.2 billion represents 2.4% of all South Korean exports, which underlines the significant role of Kia Motors as a pillar of the domestic Korean economy.

The increase in exports has also enabled Kia to surpass the two million unit global sales mark in 2010 for the first time in company history and attain global market share of 3%. Since 2004, Kia has posted an average annual global sales growth rate of 12%, far outpacing the industry average of 1.9% over the same period and cementing Kia’s standing as one of the world’s fastest growing automotive brands.

Kia Motors plans to continue to expand its presence in the global automotive industry through various strategies aimed at improving brand value, profitability and growth sustainability.

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