KIA approaches 15 million vehicles exported

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KIA approaches 15 million vehicles exported

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Kia Motors said Tuesday its cumulative exports totaled 14.9 million cars through May and will surpass 15 million this month, 40 years after the company sold 10 Brisa sedans to Qatar.

Cumulative Kia exports reached 5 million in 2005 and 10 million in March 2011.

The average $8,700 price per vehicle exported in 2000 increased by 61 percent to $14,200 last year.

The all-time best sellers through May were the Pride hatchback with 2.33 million units, followed by the Sportage SUV (1.57 million), Morning (1.43 million) and Sorento SUV (1.08 million).

The company operates 19 branches and 4,000 dealer shops worldwide, and the number of countries it exports to has increased from 10 in 1980 to 170.

The export market is very significant for Kia. Since cumulative exports hit 250,000 units in 1998, annual sales overseas have exceeded those in the domestic market. After 2000, the company started to focus on expanding its market share in China, Europe and the United States, and it has been exporting more than 1 million cars per year since 2011. Last year, it became the leading exporter among Korean automakers, selling 1.24 million units.

Such achievements came after Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo ordered the company to expand production both in Korea and overseas. The total production capacity of Kia in Korea was 800,000 units per year in early 2000s, but last year it was 1.71 million units. The company exports about 70 percent of the cars it makes in Korea.

However, Kia has been struggling of late in the global market due to slumping economies in newly industrialized nations, including Russia, and the weak yen.

The company says it will bounce back by introducing makeover models of the K5 sedan and Sportage SUV in the second half of this year and launching operations in Mexico, the world’s seventh-largest car producing country.

“We will keep trying to strengthen our competitiveness in the industry to secure and expand our market share in the world,” said a spokesman for Kia Motors.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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