As other automakers agonize over idled plants and tough choices, things are looking good for Kia—both overseas and for its rapidly growing operations in the U.S. Overall, Kia sales are down 6.8 percent versus last year; but that's one of the smallest drops in sales of any brand, second only to Subaru.
Since last year, sales have been quite steady for Kia, which boosted its market share by 47 percent versus last year, to 3.1 percent of the U.S. market. And there will probably be more of a spike from the stylish Soul, which was introduced earlier this spring, and the 2010 Kia Forte sedan that bows this month. Regionally, Kia is growing the fastest in the Northeast, where its sales are up 81 percent.
While some product launches are being rethought and pared back for some brands, Kia is charging ahead with several more important new-model introductions this year. After the Forte, the Forte Koup is expected later this summer. Then a new Sportage is expected this fall, and a five-door hatchback-wagon version of the Forte might be on the way as soon as next year, although Kia's U.S. officials won't yet confirm it.
Also late this year the new 2010 Kia Sorento will arrive. As the first vehicle to be assembled in Kia's West Point, Georgia, plant, the Sorento will become a top rival to the Toyota Highlander, with four-cylinder and V-6 variants, new six-speed automatics, and a dressed-up look inside and out.
2010 Kia SoulEnlarge Photo
Just in the past year or two, Kia has invested $110 million into a new corporate campus, $35 million into its Irvine, California U.S. design center—where the Soul and Forte were penned—and about $1
million billion into the Georgia plant.
In case you missed it, this Tuesday TheCarConnection.com brought you our First Drive of the 2010 Kia Forte—which included the first full set of driving impressions on this new compact sedan from anyone in the U.S. media. And from TheCarConnection.com's overview page for the Forte, you'll find a Bottom Line take, plus photos, specs, and prices.
And of course, we'll bring you driving impressions on the 2010 Kia Forte Koup as soon as we can get into it.