Most Improved Automaker for 2010: Kia
Heading into the 2010 calendar year, most automakers are still dealing with the economic downturn, but South Korea's Kia Motors has been primed to thrive in this economy since it was introduced to North America back in 1995. While other automakers are scrambling to introduce smaller, cheaper and more fuel-efficient cars, Kia has been offering these vehicle attributes on most of its models since its arrival to the U.S., but it is now focusing on vehicle designs and interior quality on new models. For the gains made in all aspects of its new cars as well as the continued focus on reliability and value, we recognize Kia as the most improved automaker in North America for 2010.
Throughout 2009, Kia has kept itself busy with new vehicle launches by adding attractive models such as the 2010 Kia Soul, 2010 Kia Forte sedan and the Kia Forte KOUP, which showcase the design potential of the still fledgling automaker. The new design language incorporated on the recent Kia models portrays a sporty, more youthful styling, while the addition of more interior technology will help meet the demands of most tech-savvy drivers. With the addition of 3 new models just in the last year alone, Kia's vehicle lineup has swelled 12 vehicle offerings ranging from the subcompact Kia Rio up to the rugged full-size Kia Borrego.
Further improving Kia's position in the North American automotive market, it has just opened an all-new production facility in Georgia to build the redesigned 2011 Kia Sorento. The Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) production plant will give Kia its first-ever U.S.-built model which should help the second-generation Sorento continue to gain market share in the highly competitive, highly lucrative midsize crossover segment. Kia has confirmed the addition of two new nameplates next year including its all-new luxury flagship, the 2011 Kia Cadenza, but it has to announce whether or not either of these will join the Sorento's production at KMMG.
In addition to the stylish new designs, all Kia models continue to offer some of the best warranty coverage in the industry with a five-year/60,000 base warranty and a 10-year/100,000 powertrain warranty. Kia models also represent a great value when priced against similar vehicles. All three of these components have led to a strong sales year despite the downward trends in the North American auto market as sales have increased by 7.2 percent compared to 2008 and October's 22,490 units sold represent a sales increase of 45.3 percent compared to October 2008. The third quarter of 2009 was the best four-month period ever in the history of the company including its best single month ever with 40,198 units sold back in August. Next year will also mark another milestone for Kia as it creates a motorsports program in the U.S. starting with the 2010 GRAND-AM KONI Sports Car Challenge Series.
With its continued focus on value and warranty coverage as well as the newfound focus on stylish designs, we expect that this is only the beginning for Kia as it looks to build off its many improvements made for 2010.