Angular Front Exterior View - 2012 Kia Forte 5-Door 5dr HB EXEnlarge Photo
Kia, it seems, wants to be Volkswagen. Not only is the Korean rising star of the automotive world specifically targeting the Volkswagen brand, they’re also targeting the goal of becoming a beloved, “people’s car.”
As Kia vice-president Hyoung-Keun Lee explained to Automotive News Europe (subscription required), Kia would love to be a “people’s brand,” like the German company whose name translates into “people’s car.” Kia isn’t just gunning for VW’s image, it’s got VW’s specific models in its sights as well.
The next Kia Cee’d (which is most comparable to the U.S. Kia Forte) was designed to have ride and handling characteristics that mirror the VW Golf, one of Volkswagen’s most popular models worldwide. Like Volkswagen, Kia competes for mainstream customers and offers a broad selection of vehicles ranging from compacts to crossovers and even minivans.
From Lee’s perspective, becoming the world’s best-loved brand is a means to an end. Achieving this goal will automatically translate into both sales and market share for Kia.
Kia also has the benefit of learning from other automaker’s mistakes. Toyota’s quality issues, Lee believes, were a direct result of the automaker expanding global production too quickly.
Kia won’t make that same mistake, and has relatively modest expectations of growth over the next three years. In 2011, Kia expects to sell some 2.4 million vehicles worldwide, and Lee expects that to grow to just 2.8 million vehicles worldwide by 2014.