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Hyundai Market Share Likely to Slip

Korean carmaker hitting limits of production capacity.

by on Jul.15, 2013

Hyundai expects to sell around 2,000 of the 2014 Equus luxury sedans in the U.S.

Despite record sales this year, Hyundai expects its market share to shrink in the U.S. because of a continuing – and growing — shortage of vehicle resulting from a lack of production capacity.

“We see more demand for our products than we do production,” Hyundai Motor America Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik said during a visit to the Hyundai-Kia Technical Center to show off the updated version of Hyundai’s luxury car, the Equus. “We can’t get a single incremental unit out of our plants,” he said.

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Nevertheless, Hyundai is still “on track” to increase sales 4.4% this year, to 734,000 vehicles in the U.S., which means from a sales standpoint, “Our year is going well,” Krafcik added.


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.


Supplier Fire Shuts Down Kia’s Georgia Plant

by on Mar.19, 2012

A partially assembled Optima rolls down the line at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia.

A fire at a key supplier plant has forced Kia to temporarily suspend production at its own factory in West Point, Georgia.

Even a brief shutdown is a potentially serious problem for the Korean carmaker as it has already been struggling to meet demand for products such as the midsize Optima sedan and Sorrento SUV, both produced at the Georgia facility.  The fire also complicates matters for Kia’s Korean sibling, as that assembly line also produces some of Hyundai’s Santa Fe sport-utility vehicles.

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Kia confirms it does not expect to resume production at the Georgia plant until the start of the first shift on Wednesday, according to a statement.

The maker declined to discuss details of the fire but wire reports indicate the problem follows a fire at a nearby factory operated by Korean supplier Daehan Solution.  The parts maker has not responded to an request for comment.


Fast-Growing Kia Expanding Georgia Plant

Sales booming, capacity growing to 360,000 vehicles.

by on Jun.02, 2011

Kia will begin producing the 2012 version of its Optima sedan at West Point later this year.

Fresh on the heels of a 53% jump in May sales, Kia has announced plans to spend $100 million on a series of expansion projects at its assembly plant in West Point, Georgia, as part of a plan to focus on domestic production for an expanding U.S. market.

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia Inc. expects that by the time the project is through the still-new factory will see capacity jump by roughly 50%, to 360,00 units cars and crossovers annually.

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The expansion follows Kia Motors’ announcement at the 2011 New York International Auto Show that the award-winning Optima midsize sedan will be added to the plant’s production line.


First Look: 2011 Kia Sorento

Buy American?

by on Dec.02, 2009

The first car to roll out of the Korean carmaker's new U.S. assembly plant, the 2011 Kia Sorento.

The first car to roll out of the Korean carmaker's new U.S. assembly plant, the 2011 Kia Sorento.

The “Made in America” tag continues to become more confusing, now that Kia has become the latest Asian brand to set up a “transplant” assembly plant.  The factory, in West Point, Georgia, launched production of the all-new 2011 Kia Sorento just two weeks ago.

The stylish Korean-engineered crossover could build on the brand’s already significant momentum; Kia sales have been defying gravity during the current economic downturn, posting a 7.8% increase since the beginning of the year.

The crossover market is critical for automakers hoping to take advantage of shifting consumer tastes, said Kia’s vice president of sales, Tom Loveless.  “We see customers rightsizing, rather than downsizing.”

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The stylish five-door is based on the Kia KND4 concept vehicle which was unveiled at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show.  It’s both longer and lower than the outgoing Sienna, and is aimed at buyers who want room for 5 full-size adults, with occasional seating for 7, noted Kia’s marketing director, Michael Sprague.

The unibody-based CUV features a new McPherson strut front suspension and a mult-link rear.


Why Kia Bet on Georgia

Incentives only part of the reasons for first U.S. assembly plant.

by on Nov.30, 2009

Eventually, Kia hopes to employ 2,500 workers at its new assembly plant in West Point, Georgia.

Eventually, Kia hopes to employ 2,500 workers at its new assembly plant in West Point, Georgia.

Just over three years ago, I attended the ground breaking ceremony for the new Kia factory in West Point, Georgia. The weather was soggy and damp and there wasn’t much to see beyond a hilly, 2,100- acre site that the Korean automakers promised to turn into one of North America’s assembly plant – a heck of a stretch for a company long known for building econocars using cheap labor.

But just a few weeks ago, as I turned off the specially constructed exit ramp and turned onto Kia Avenue, I had another chance to visit the site where my first glimpse revealed  an ultra modern, pristine automotive manufacturing campus gleaming in the warm sun. Three years had brought changes. Major changes.

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The factory was finished, the production line running, stamping presses installed, welding operations opened, paint shop ready and training of first employees had been completed.  The new, $1 billion factory was warming-up the production line to produce the new, 2010 Kia Sorento crossover vehicle.  Since my latest trip to Georgia, the facility has gone from prototypes to market-ready versions of the Sorento