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Hyundai – Kia Sales to Hit Record 8 Million

But profits under pressure.

by on Nov.25, 2014

A fuel-cell version of the popular Hyundai Tucson went on sale in the U.S. market last summer.

Hyundai Motor Co. and its sibling Kia Motors Corp. are collectively heading for an all-time sales record of 8 million this year.

On the downside, Hyundai is facing serious pressure on earnings as the Korean won gains strength. That creates a disadvantage when compared to Japanese rivals who have watched earnings soar on the weak yen.

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“The market still does not look rosy,” Chung Mong Koo, who serves as chairman of both Hyundai and Kia, said in the statement. “Let’s overcome the unfavorable market situation and show our automobile industry’s competence.”

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SEMA Show Keeps America’s Love Affair with the Automobile Alive

Aftermarket business recovering after big recession hit.

by on Nov.10, 2014

Open wide: Toyota's "Sleeper Camry."

It looks like an ordinary, 2015 Toyota Camry, but lift the hood and you’re in for quite a surprise.

Actually, you have to raise the entire body of the “Sleeper Camry” sedan, which Toyota quietly transformed into an 850-horsepower drag racer. It’s just one of the wild, weird and wacky concept vehicles unveiled at the 2014 Specialty Equipment Marketers Association annual aftermarket convention, an event known to fans around the world as the SEMA Show.

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There’s been plenty written about the supposed death of the American love affair with the automobile. You’d have a hard time proving it at the Las Vegas convention center, which hosts what has become Sin City’s second-largest annual event, this year expected to draw as many as 140,000 attendees.

Kia Mixes Beer and Ice Cream as it Rolls into SEMA

A way to spend a “Day at the Races.”

by on Nov.05, 2014

The Kia Optima race car will sport a new look when it gets back on the track early next year.

Beer and ice cream don’t necessarily mix together– but they’re proving a tasty combination at the Kia stand at this year’s SEMA Show, offering up the themes for two of the Korean carmaker’s lighthearted concept vehicles.

Kia has a history of finding unusual ways to tweak its production vehicles for the big aftermarket show, and this year proves no exception. The theme, this time around, is “A Day at the Races,” and the centerpiece is the maker’s very successful motorsports entry, a Kia Optima decked out in the new livery it will wear for the 2014 racing season.

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Kia has reason to boast. It announced its entry into motorsports just five years ago – not so coincidentally, at the 2009 SEMA Show. It has already won 11 races, about 15% of the events it has entered, nabbing 33 podium finishes overall.

But what’s a day at the races without some beer and snacks? And that’s where Kia gets creative.

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Kia Hires Hoopster LeBron James to Pitch K900

NBA star named maker’s “luxury ambassador.”

by on Oct.17, 2014

LeBron James is Kia's latest athlete endorser. He's the face for a new campaign for the maker's new luxury sedan, the K900.

Automakers aren’t just finding ways to outdo one another with their vehicles, the competition for celebrity pitchmen is also heating up: Kia Motor America added hoops superstar LeBron James to its roster.

James is now hawking the maker’s K900 luxury sedan. He joins fellow NBA player Blake Griffin, tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, and U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie on the company’s list of superstar athlete pitchmen.

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His first ad spot titled “Fit for a King” debuts during the upcoming NBA season. The Cleveland Cavalier, who’s nickname is King James, is the latest high-profile celebrity to begin selling cars after actor Matthew McConaughey linked up with Lincoln in a multiyear deal. (more…)

Kia Attempts to Take over Paris Motor Show

Maker debuts several vehicles, puts 23 cars on display.

by on Sep.30, 2014

The 2015 Kia Rio debuts at the Paris Motor Show. The maker will have 23 vehicles on display at the show.

A few years ago, it was Lotus that tried to make a big splash at the Paris Motor Show and now Kia seems to be grabbing the spotlight for this year’s event, which starts later this week.

The South Korean automaker will have 23 vehicles on its stand in the City of Light this year, including an Optima T-Hybrid and a new Rio, which hasn’t been updated since 2011, as well as new versions of its Sorento SUV.

The Optima features diesel-electric hybrid powertrain with a 1.7-liter diesel boasting a turbocharger and a supercharger. The new diesel uses less fuel than a comparably sized gas engine, but develops more low-end torque, which is an advantage in city driving.

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“No plans have been confirmed yet for mass production of the Kia Optima T-Hybrid show car,” the maker said in a statement. “The T-Hybrid powertrain remains under consideration for new Kia models in the future.” (more…)

Kia’s Splashy New Designs Re-Ignite Sales

Maker showing increase in 2014 after last year’s slide.

by on Sep.25, 2014

The 2015 Kia Sedona marks the maker's first major overhaul of the vehicle since 2009.

After losing ground, Kia, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary selling cars in the U.S., grabbed some of its mojo back as its sales are growing once again, rising 6.9% so far this year after falling by 3% in 2013.

Coming out of the 2008-2009 recession, Kia was one of the hottest brands in the industry as more and more American buyers found its emphasis on style and value appealing in the aftermath of the financial crisis and steep economic downturn.

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It didn’t hurt that Kia was also in the right place at the right time as Toyota was engulfed in a recall scandal and Honda, the other major Japanese brand, faltered with a series of uninspired designs left buyers less than excited. (more…)

Kia Jumps into Affordable Lease Fray with New Soul EV

Maker offers compact at prices comparable with competitors.

by on Sep.12, 2014

Kia announced pricing on its Soul EV, including a lease price of $249 a month for 36 months.

The war of “reasonably priced” electric vehicles just got a little more intense as Kia announced it will make its Soul EV available for a monthly lease price of just $249 a month for 36 months, which makes it among the most affordable EVs to lease.

Potential lessees will need to put down $1,995 to get that price, which is comparable to prices the Nissan Leaf at $199 per month with $1,999 due at signing, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV at $189 per month with $3,388 down, and the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, which is $199 per month with $1,493 down, according to Edmunds.com.

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Buyers aren’t left out of the “low-price” segment either, as the new Soul is among the cheapest of the new compact EVs as well with a price of $33,700, including destination charges. The Plus model is $35,700. Once buyers include the $7,500 federal tax credit for purchasing an EV, the prices come in at just more than $26,000 and $28,000 respectively. The Leaf is priced at $22,360. (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.

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New Look for Kia Sorento

Little hatchback borrows cues from edgy Cross GT concept.

by on Aug.13, 2014

Kia's new version of the Sorento will be longer, lower -- and a lot more stylish.

When the last generation Kia Sorento came out, the Korean carmaker seemed content to settle for me-too styling that was easily lost in the crowd.  Today, Kia has adopted a much more edgy and distinctive design language that’s readily apparent in these advance images of the next-generation sport-utility vehicle.

Set to make its formal debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, the new Sorento is lower and longer, with additional space for passengers in all three rows, the maker promises. And it certainly won’t be lost in a crowded parking lot anymore, the new crossover model clearly showing the influence of not only other recent models, such as the K900 luxury sedan, but also the Cross GT show car that signaled the new brand styling theme.

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“While we have retained the name based on the tremendous success of the outgoing model, the all-new Sorento has been completely redesigned and re-engineered,” said Soon-Nam Lee, vice president of Kia overseas marketing, “and promises to surprise customers with its thoroughly updated styling, a host of new convenience and safety technologies, as well as enhanced space, driving comfort and handling response.”

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Consumer Reports Blasts Honda Accord Hybrid MPG Claim

Latest hybrid to be faulted for overly optimistic mileage ratings.

by on May.29, 2014

The Honda Accord Hybrid was redesigned for 2014.

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is the latest among a growing list of gas-electric models to take hits for what critics contend are overly optimistic and misleading mileage claims.

It’s not the first time Honda has been faulted for its hybrid mileage ratings – an estimated 47 mpg on the 2014 Accord version – but it’s far from alone, Ford last year lowering its own numbers for the Fusion C-Max that initially also had a 47 mpg rating.

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But most manufacturers have been sticking by their fuel economy numbers, which are based on testing by the Environmental Protection Agency, despite concerns that the industry has been “gaming” the system by tuning vehicles to maximize results in those tests while delivering lower results in real-world driving.

“We’ve found that the EPA tests often exaggerate the fuel economy of hybrids,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports.

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