DETROIT, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the course of the last several years, the Kia brand has matured and grown dramatically in the U.S. market while capturing the attention of a wide variety of consumers, and no other year in Kia Motors America's history has been as successful as 2012 with the company reaching an all-time high sales total of 557,599 units. On the way to a 14.9-percent increase in year-over-year sales and 18th straight year of increased market share – finishing at an all-time high of 3.85 percent – Kia sold its four millionth vehicle in the U.S. in 2012 and received more awards and accolades than any time in the brand's history in the market.
Kia's standing as one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. can be attributed to a comprehensive line of stylish and fun-to-drive vehicles – including the all-new 2014 Forte and redesigned Sorento scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2013 – as well as several high-profile brand initiatives and the continued success of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG), which is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 direct and supplier jobs. From large-scale marketing activities and road racing victories to the formation of charitable partnerships with DonorsChoose.org and DC Entertainment, 2012 was an historic year for the Kia brand, which continues its dramatic transformation.
"Kia is a completely different company from what it was just three years ago, and 2012 will go down as a milestone year that demonstrated the power of our brand transformation, which began with the arrival of the Soul in 2009," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and KMMG. "As Kia continues to grow and strengthen the brand, we remain committed to advancing value to new levels of sophistication by introducing vehicles with world-class design, technology and amenities."
- Sales: KMA surpassed its previous best-ever annual sales total in 11 months and sold more than 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. for the first time in company history. KMA's annual sales record was highlighted by best-ever quarterly sales in Q2 with 150,647 units sold, besting the previous record of 140,330 units sold in Q2 2011. The U.S.-built* Optima was the brand's best-selling vehicle every month and became the third Kia nameplate to sell more than 100,000 vehicles in a single year. Together with the Sorento, Kia's U.S.-built* vehicles accounted for 48.7-percent of sales, and the Soul urban passenger vehicle continued its sales success topping 100,000 units for the second straight year.
- KMMG/Optima: Named "Large Manufacturer of the Year" by the State of Georgia in April, Kia's U.S. plant in West Point, Ga., is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 direct and supplier jobs. Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia produced its 500,000th vehicle in February and completed a series of expansion projects totaling $100 million to increase annual capacity to 360,000 vehicles.
- Advanced Technology: Co-developed with Microsoft® and based on Windows Embedded Auto software, UVO eServices – the second-generation of the company's innovative telematics and infotainment system – debuted at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and represents an evolution from the original UVO system's capabilities. Set to first appear on the redesigned 2014 Sorento in Q1 2013, UVO eServices will be powered by an exclusive free smartphone application that will provide Kia owners with a unique in-vehicle connectivity experience, which includes Google Maps integration, navigation, diagnostics capabilities, music customization and a suite of safety and security features. UVO is short for "Your Voice."
- Corporate Social Responsibility: As Kia's sales rose in 2012, so did the company's commitment to corporate social responsibility, including providing funds to the American Red Cross to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, Kia formed the first-ever national automotive partnership with DonorsChoose.org – named by Fast Company as one of "The Most Innovative Companies" in 2011 – to raise funds and supply much needed resources to more than 500,000 public school students across America and supported DC Entertainment's "We Can Be Heroes" campaign to raise funds to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa by creating a fleet of superhero rides inspired by the iconic characters from DC Comics' Justice League comic books.
- Memorable Marketing: Kia's efforts to raise consumer awareness, perception and consideration of the brand continued, focusing on four key marketing pillars: music, sports, connected life and pop culture. The year began with another highly effective Super Bowl ad, titled "Drive the Dream," for the range-topping Optima SXL model which starred supermodel Adriana Lima, legendary rockers Motley Crue, and mixed martial arts legend Chuck Liddell in a Gen X couple's wildest thoughts after Mr. Sandman sprinkles "Sweet Dreams" dust on them. The eclectic cast helped generate buzz for the campaign before, during and after the Super Bowl with Tweets and Facebook postings. According to Edmunds.com, the Super Bowl campaign caused a 432-percent spike in Kia Optima searches, following the game and the Kia brand received an 18-percent boost. Not to be outdone, Kia's music-loving hamsters (the stars of some of the most watched viral videos in the world over the last three years) returned in a new campaign for the wildly popular Soul urban passenger vehicle. The campaign brought the 21st century's electronic dance music craze to a stuffy 18th century opera house. Set to "In My Mind" (Axwell remix), "Bringing Down the House" appeared on more than 18,000 movie screens nationwide followed by the television debut during the MTV Video Music Awards as well as presence on all Kia social and digital platforms, including Facebook, YouTube and Kia.com. From hamster wheels on city streets to a post-apocalyptic video game world, the hamsters have earned international acclaim and notoriety for the Soul and elevated the Kia brand by appealing to the young and the young-at-heart through marketing efforts that emphasize creativity, optimism and fun.Kia is currently in its sixth season as the "Official Automotive Partner of the NBA," and added the Oklahoma City Thunder to its roster of 15 team partnerships in December. Los Angeles Clippers All-Star power forward Blake Griffin and Kia's global brand ambassador also appeared in a series of humorous new television commercials featuring the best-selling Optima midsize sedan and innovative UVO voice-activated infotainment system. In the five 30-second spots rolling out during the 2012 – 2013 NBA season, Griffin offers helpful suggestions to younger versions of himself as Kia's UVO voice-activated infotainment system takes his futuristic Optima on a time-traveling musical journey through the mid-1990s and early-2000s. As part of KMA's strategic marketing plan, the company continued its partnership with golf superstar Michelle Wie, one of the most recognizable youth athletes in the world, and renewed its Official Automotive Partnership with the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association). Kia also signed a multi-year agreement as the title sponsor of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament, announcing that the 2013 Kia Classic will move to the Aviara Golf Club at the Park Hyatt in Carlsbad, Calif., in March.In the fall, Kia Motors America joined forces with renowned comic book publisher DC Entertainment to bring the world's greatest superheroes to life by combining automotive styling with comic book art. The 10-month long partnership, which will ultimately yield eight individually customized vehicles, harnesses the talents of legendary comic book artist and DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee, who has collaborated on the designs of the vehicles with his vision for each iconic member of DC Comics' Justice League. To that, each core member of the Justice League line-up – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg – has been matched to a Kia vehicle based on key attributes and character traits to create custom, one-of-a-kind rides to be unveiled at major auto shows and Comic-Con events across the U.S. Many of Kia's most recognizable and decorated models – the Optima, Soul, Sorento, Sportage, Rio and Forte – will wear the iconic colors and marks of the legendary Justice League superheroes and be built by West Coast Customs, RIDES magazine, Import Tuner magazine, among others. The Kia/DC Entertainment partnership benefits "We Can Be Heroes," a giving campaign dedicated to helping fight hunger in the Horn of Africa.
- Remarkable Rookie Season in Pirelli World Challenge: Kia's prowess on the race track reached a new level in 2012 when the company launched into the Pirelli World Challenge with its best-selling vehicle, the Optima mid-size sedan. A pair of turbocharged Optimas took to the grueling 12-race schedule across eight tracks and two countries and turned heads as they enjoyed unprecedented success for a rookie season, including two pole positions and two race wins at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and a total of six podium finishes. For 2013, the Optimas are back and are looking to make a run at Kia's second U.S. road racing championship. The 2013 Pirelli World Challenge schedule has expanded to tracks such as Circuit of the Americas, Streets of Toronto, Lime Rock Park and Houston Grand Prix.
- Awards & Accolades:
- 2013 Sorento, 2012 Optima and 2012 Rio named to Consumer Guide's "Best Buy" list
- 2013 Optima named by Fox Business as a "Best Car for the Budget-Minded Retiree"
- 2012 Optima awarded Kiplinger's Personal Finance "2012 Best New Car Value"
- 2012 Optima named Autobytel's "2012 Sedan of the Year"
- 2012 Optima and Sorento named among "Best Family Cars of 2012" by Edmunds.com and Parents magazine
- 2012 Optima Hybrid named one of ten "Cheapest Hybrid Cars" by Automobile Magazine
- 2012 Optima and Sportage named to NADAguides "Must Consider List for Summer 2012"
- 2013 Sorento named to Autobytel's list of "10 of the Best Compact SUVs"
- 2013 Sorento named as the vehicle of the month by NADAguides
- 2013 Sorento and Sportage named "Best Value" in Strategic Vision survey
- 2013 Sorento awarded silver medal in Auto Trader's "Automotive Games Versatility and Hauling: SUVs and Crossovers" categories
- 2012 Sorento named to "10 Best Family Cars of 2012" list by Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com
- 2012 Forte picked as a "Top Ten for Teens" by USAA
- 2012 Forte 5-door, Koup and Optima named Best Subcompact and Family Sedans by MotorWeek
- 2012 Forte named as a "Top Car for College Grads" by Total Car Score
- 2012 Forte 5-door and Koup awarded Vincentric.com's "2012 Best Value in America"
- 2013 Rio and Forte Koup named to AutoTrader.com's list of "10 Great Cars for First Time Drivers"
- 2012 Rio 5-door named "Subcompact Car of the Year" by Fama's Mujeres Al Volante
- 2012 Rio named by Autobytel as one of the "Best Small Sedans of 2012"
- 2012 Rio received Red Dot and IDEA Design Awards
- 2012 Rio named to "Best Cars for Teens" list by Vroomgirls.com
- 2012 Rio 5-door, Forte and Soul named as "Most Versatile 2012 New Cars Under 20K" by NADAguides
- 2013 Rio and Soul named by Autobytel to list of "Top 10 Lowest Priced New Cars"
- 2012 Soul wins Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year Award in Urban Category
- 2012 Soul named segment winner in Initial Quality Study (IQS) by J.D. Power and Associates
- 2012 Soul named one of the "Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000" and "Top Tailgating Car for 2012" by Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com
- 2012 Soul ranked number one on the "10 Best Back-to-School Cars in 2012" list by Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com
- 2012 Soul recognized for Lowest Cost of Ownership in Non-Luxury Compact Car category by Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com
- 2012 Soul named by Autobytel as "Best New Crossover SUV for College Students"
- 2012 Soul named to Autobytel's list of "10 Best New Cars Under $15,000"
- 2012 Soul and Optima ranked class-best in APEAL Study by J.D. Power and Associates
- 2012 Soul and Sorento named "Top Scoring 2012 Car" in segment by Total Car Score
- 2012 Soul and Sportage named to Autobytel's "Fast Five: Most-Affordable Crossovers of 2012"
- 2012 Sportage named one of five "Most Affordable SUVs 2012" by Autobytel
- 2012 Sportage named to "Top Cars for Teens" list by AAA
- 2012 Sportage named a "Best Value" by USAA
- 2012 Sportage named as one of "Top Six Cars Under $30,000 With Five-Star Safety Ratings" and "Top 8 Least Expensive New SUVs" by AutoTrader.com
- Kia Justice League cars named to Autobytel's "10 hottest SEMA cars" list
- Kia.com honored by J.D. Power and Associates, Mobile Marketing Association and Digiday
- Kia Motors Corporation named to list Top 100 Best Global Brands by Interbrand
- Kia named to "Top 10 Best Car Brands for 2012" list by Total Car Score
- Kia Motors awarded the Bronze Effie at the 2012 North American Effie Awards for "Not Your Average Slam Dunk" Blake Griffin/Optima campaign
- Kia Motors named "Best Total Cost of Ownership Brand" by Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com
- Kia Motors America Corporate Headquarters honored with "Good Design is Good Business" award from Architectural Record
- Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia named "Large Manufacturer of the Year" by State of Georgia
Kia: One of the World's Fastest Moving Global Automotive Brands
Kia Motors America is one of only three auto brands to increase U.S. sales in each of the past four years, and in 2012 the company surpassed the 500,000 unit mark for the first time. With a full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs, Kia is advancing value to new levels of sophistication by combining European-influenced styling – under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer – with cutting-edge technologies, premium amenities, affordable pricing and the lowest cost of ownership in the industry. Kia recently joined the exclusive ranks of Interbrand's "Top 100 Best Global Brands," and is poised to continue its record-breaking momentum with seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles arriving in showrooms in 2013. Over the past decade Kia Motors has invested more than $1.4 billion in the U.S., including the company's first U.S. assembly plant in West Point, Georgia – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) – which is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 plant and supplier jobs. The success of the U.S.-built* Optima and Sorento in two of the industry's largest segments has fueled Kia's growth and is complemented by Kia's comprehensive lineup which includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, 5-door compact hatchback and Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 765 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA. In 2012, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and gained U.S. market share for the 18th consecutive year. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.
* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are built in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts.
 Based on comparison of 12-month retail sales from November 2007 to November 2012 of all U.S. automotive brands and five-year average sales growth.
 Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
 At launch, the Apple iPhone will be the only UVO eServices compatible device. Apple iOS6 compatibility expected early 2013. Additional compatible devices expected late 2013. iPhone® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
SOURCE Kia Motors America