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Chevy Readying to Offer Cruze Hatchback in US

Next generation model following lead of others.

by on Jun.22, 2015

While not confirmed, Chevrolet appears to be ready to introduce Cruze hatchback to U.S. shores.

Chevrolet is looking to right a wrong in its product line-up by adding a hatchback to the next generation Cruze portfolio of compacts.

The Cruze may have been slated to have a hatchback in its stable of coupes and sedans, but GM product chief Mark Reuss has called the omission of a Cruze hatchback for the U.S. “a pre-bankruptcy planning mistake.” While the automaker hasn’t acknowledged the addition publicly, Automotive News reported the vehicle was shown to dealers last week.

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The automaker hasn’t offered a compact car as a hatchback since 1987 when you could get the Chevy Cavalier – the first generation of the Cavalier – in that version. (more…)

Kia Announces $1 billion Mexican Assembly Plant

Factory set to open in 2016; add much-needed production capacity.

by on Aug.28, 2014

The new plant is expected to produce several small models, including a version of the Kia Forte Koup.

Desperate to add more much-needed production capacity, Kia Motors will become the latest automaker to open a new assembly plant in Mexico.

Intended to serve markets up and down the Americas, the $1 billion plant will begin operations in just two years, and will be tooled to eventually build as many as 300,000 vehicles annually. The facility is expected to produce a number of different compact models, according to the Korean carmaker, though it did not identify specific plans yet.

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The factory will become one of a growing list of automotive assembly plants operating in the Spanish-speaking country, Mexico already on target to become the sixth-largest auto-producing nation in the world as makers such as Nissan, Audi and now Kia set up shop or expand existing production facilities.


Kia Completes Forte Family with New Koup

Rakish design makes it sportiest entry in the family.

by on Mar.27, 2013

The new Koup rounds out the Kia Forte family.

Kia has ridden a wave of new products to increased sales and market share and it hopes to build on that momentum with the third member of the redesigned Forte line-up – the all-new 2014 Kia Forte Koup SX – that debuted today at the 2013 New York Auto Show.

The Koup SX joins the sedan and hatchback versions of the compact Forte family. Like its siblings, it features European-inspired design and performance to match with a 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 201 horsepower and 195 foot-pounds of torque.

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“The Forte Koup is arguably the sportiest vehicle in our award-winning lineup, and it has helped raise Kia’s brand awareness significantly among automotive enthusiasts,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing & communications, KMA. “Its rakish design, premium amenities and powerful turbocharged engine set it apart from the competition. With the debut of the Forte sedan and five-door earlier this year, and now the Koup in New York, the Forte lineup has been completely revamped from top to bottom.”


Evolving Design: Peter Schreyer Hopes to Reshape Kia and Hyundai

German stylist wants to connect the dots between art and design.

by on Feb.14, 2013

Kia President Peter Schreyer now oversees Hyundai design, as well.

Korea’s business community is a close-knit – some would say xenophobic group. So, it came as a shock when, last month, top executives at the massive Hyundai Group — which includes both Hyundai and Kia — did something unheard of, placing a large chunk of responsibility for the company’s future in the hands of an outsider.

Then again, German Peter Schreyer, had already shown how he could transform the once-stodgy Kia brand into a global trend-setter.

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“I think (my) role is definitely changing,” was the decidedly understated way Peter Schreyer opened a conversation about his new role as one of three Kia presidents. “I think it can help make the design organization stronger,” Schreyer said of his new position during a conversation at the Chicago Auto Show after unveiling both the Kia Forte 5-door hatchback and the edgy Cross GT Concept.


First Look: 2014 Kia Forte

German design for a Korean compact.

by on Nov.30, 2012

Former Audi design chief's latest work for Kia is the new 2014 Forte sedan.

With the introduction of the 2014 Forte, Kia reveals the continuing shift from generic styling to a distinctly European look that has helped it draw in a wave of new buyers in recent years.

Longer, wider and lower than the previous Forte, the new sedan bears the distinctive touch of Peter Schreyer, the former Audi design chief who joined the Korean carmaker in 2006. His work on such models as the latest Kia Optima have won kudos for both the maker and its styling chief – and helped make the Forte one of the most eagerly anticipated debuts during a crowded 2012 LA Auto Show.

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“The all-new Forte significantly raises the bar, offering upscale amenities and eye-catching appeal,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing & communications, KMA. “When you combine exclusive available features like a ventilated driver’s seat and UVO eServices in a car with such an attractive design, it’s very clear the all-new Forte sets a new standard for the compact segment.”


Kia Ready For Next Product Blitz

Smaller of Korean makers also studying possible 2nd US plant.

by on Sep.05, 2012

The 2014 Kia Forte will make its debut at the LA Auto Show in November.

The once very unhip Kia brand has undergone a massive makeover in recent years, thanks to a trio of hip-hop “hamstars,” a rock star of a design chief – and a blitz of new products.

The new model assault is set to continue, Kia officials reveal, at the upcoming Los Angeles and Detroit auto shows.  And to feed the growing demand for those and existing products like the Optima and Soul, Kia management is now studying the option of expanding its North American production base – a move that might include the addition of a second U.S. assembly plant.

Kia is now the fastest-growing brand in the U.S. market, noted Kia Motors America sales chief Tom Loveless, with a 78% sales surge since 2008 surpassing even Korean sibling Hyundai, as well as fast-track brands like Volkswagen and Subaru.

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After setting a 2011 sales record of 485,000 – and breaking its all-time monthly records for 24 consecutive months – Kia expects to reach another new peak this year, market share climbing to an all-time high 4.0, “if we can maintain this pace,” said Loveless, during a presentation to the Detroit Automotive Press Association.


Kia Forte: Smart and Fun for a Nice Price

by on Feb.02, 2012

The Kia Forte is fun to drive, but comes at a budget-friendly price.

Sometimes in life, things are not as they appear.

Take this Kia Forte. What looks like your basic compact economy sedan, is actually a stealth sports sedan in disguise. It handles the curves well, has quick, confidence-inspiring steering and just enough power to be interesting.

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For many young folks just leaving college, it could be just the right ride. After years of eating ramen noodles for dinner, scrounging for money to pay tuition and asking mom and dad for cash infusions, they finally get out on their own, only to find out that their entry-level job really doesn’t leave them with much more money than they had in their college days.

Quickly, ideas of buying a fashionable sports sedan fall by the wayside. The really cool wheels will have to wait until you make partner.

Kia would like to think that its small Forte sedan is just the ticket for sports sedan fans on a budget.


Kia Expects U.S. Sales to Surge Past 500,000

Pushing for more product.

by on Jan.10, 2012

The midsize Optima sedan has been a transformational product for the Kia brand.

After setting a blistering pace during the past three years, Kia Motors America expects sales to continue climbing well past 500,000 units in 2012 even though it will not be launching any new products for the first time in recent years.

Kia sales increased 36% last year to 485,000 units in the US as its rebuilt product line and its clever and aggressive advertising — featuring dancing hamsters and stars from the National Basketball Association — helped draw new customers into U.S. showrooms. Overall, sales of new light-duty vehicles increased 8% in 2011, so Kia gained market share as well as volume.

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“You have to remember we were capacity constrained last year,” said Michael Sprague, Kia vice president of marketing and public relations.“ Between November of 2008 and November of 2011, Kia sales grew 78% as it rolled out the Kia Soul, Kia Optima and Kia Sorento.


Consumer Reports Pulls Recommended Buy on 2012 Honda Civic

“Scores too low,” says influential publication, echoing extensive criticism of redesign.

by on Aug.01, 2011

Already battered by poor reviews, the 2012 Honda Civic has now lost its Recommended Buy endorsement from Consumer Reports magazine.

Already battered by both weak reviews and production problems that have led to shortages of the latest redesign, the influential Consumer Reports magazine has pulled its recommendation of the 2012 Honda Civic which “scored too low” in its latest shoot-out among compact cars.

The news is another setback for the third-largest Japanese automaker, which had been counting on the 2012 Civic to overcome recent problems with various niche offerings, such as the Insight hybrid and Accord CrossTour.


In an increasingly competitive compact segment, the 2012 Honda Civic scored what the magazine described as a “mediocre” 61 points, down 17 points from the score of 78 for the previous-generation Civic.

“While other models like the Hyundai Elantra have gotten better after being redesigned, the Civic has dropped so much that now it ranks near the bottom of its category,” said David Champion, Consumer Reports’ lead auto tester.


Kia – Out From the Shadows

Hyundai’s little brother growing big on its own.

by on Jun.12, 2009

"The foundation of the brand." While the hip new Soul may be gaining Kia some much-needed attention, it's the Forte that will be the brand's volume leader.

"The foundation of the brand." While the hip new Soul may be gaining Kia some much-needed attention, it's the Forte that will be the brand's volume leader.

In automotive circles, these days, it’s often said that “flat is the new up.”  With most major automakers posting hefty double-digit declines, even a single-digit sales dip, is considered a huge success.

So, with its volume off just 6.8 percent, Kia is among the industry’s “winners,” in the ongoing market collapse.  That’s all the more true when one considers that the South Korean carmaker’s market share has soared from just 2%, last year to 3.1% during the first five months of 2009.

“While we don’t know how things will work out for the year, as a whole,” suggests Tom Loveless, Kia’s vice president of sales, “we’d have to shut down completely not to post some market share gain in 2009.”

For years, Kia lived in the shadow of its bigger sibling, Hyundai Motors.  Suddenly, however, it is carving out an identity of its own.  It’s reversing a reputation for quality problems, and it’s launching stand-out products, such as the new Soul crossover, which has been accompanied by what is arguably the year’s most well-received ad campaign, featuring a pair of hip hamsters. (more…)