Kia has exported more than 1m vehicles to Latin America from South Korea since it first started exports with the Brisa passenger vehicle to Costa Rica 33 years ago. The milestone was reached earlier this month with the company’s latest shipment of ethanol-gasoline powered Soul Flex vehicles to Brazil.
Kia held a commemorative ceremony last Thursday to mark the achievement at its main domestic shipping base at Pyeontaek port, in South Korea. Senior executive vice president and COO, Thomas Oh, told those gathered that the accomplishment was due to its efforts to raise quality and styling, while tapping into new markets and satisfying the needs of local customers.
“We plan to actively respond to the growing demand not only in this region but in other emerging markets like China as we further solidify our image as a top global brand,” said Oh.
Kia’s main export countries in Latin America include Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru. The first 353 Brisa sedans exported to Costa Rica contributed to first year exports in 1977 of 1,050. Since then the company has grown exports by 123 times.
It is now aggressively targeting the Brazilian market and recorded sales of more than 24,800 vehicles in 2009. That figure is predicted to increase to around 53,000 for this year, an increase of around 102%. Taken with market share elsewhere in the region the company expects that 2010 sales in Latin America will grow by 75% compared to the previous year with a total of 136,000.