DETROIT, Jan. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the last two decades, Kia Motors America (KMA) has experienced unprecedented growth, due in part to an aggressive new vehicle launch cadence – 16 new or significantly redesigned cars and CUVs in the last five years alone – and 2013 served as an important transitional year that saw the brand continue to develop and mature. In addition to delivering seven all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles in 2013, Kia also continued several high-profile strategic partnerships and received more industry awards and accolades than ever before. Kia begins 2014 as the seventh largest brand in the U.S. by volume and looking back on its second consecutive year of more than half a million total sales. The U.S.-built* Optima was Kia's best-selling vehicle for the second straight year and set an all-time single nameplate annual sales record for Kia with more than 155,000 units sold.
Kia has been one of the industry's most improved brands when it comes to vehicle quality, and that trend continued in 2013 as the company achieved its first-ever top ten ranking in the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Initial Quality Studysm (IQS). Additional honors included a move up Interbrand's Top 100 Best Global Brands list as well as being named one of Interbrand's Best Global Green Brands; Sorento and Optima being named to Kelley Blue Book's "10 Best Under $25,000" lists in their respective segments; Soul ranking best-in-segment in the J.D. Power 2013 (IQS) for the second consecutive year; and the Cadenza and Forte sedans becoming the first Kia vehicles to win major auto enthusiast magazine comparison tests.
"For 20 years, Kia has had the courage to defy one industry convention after another while implementing our long-term strategy," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). "As evidenced by the upcoming launch of our K900 flagship sedan, we will continue to identify and pursue new opportunities for growth and advance Kia to new levels of sophistication by bringing European-influenced design, advanced technology and outstanding quality to every segment we compete in, from subcompact to luxury."
Kia's U.S. manufacturing plant – KMMG – continued to be a major contributor to Kia's success in 2013. The plant, which is responsible for the creation of more than 14,000 direct and supplier jobs, produced its one millionth vehicle in July 2013, less than four years after production began, and the KMMG-assembled Optima and Sorento were two of Kia's top three sellers last year. In particular, the upscale Optima SX-L and Sorento SX-L paved the way for Kia to continue attracting more style-conscious and affluent customers and successfully introduce the Cadenza premium sedan.
As part of KMA's strategic marketing plan, Kia returned as a Super Bowl advertiser in 2013 for the fourth straight year with two ads, one for the Sorento and one for Forte, and this year the K900 will star in a 60-second spot. The company also is in the midst of its seventh season as the "Official Automotive Partner of the NBA," and continues to serve as the "Official Partner of the LPGA" (Ladies Professional Golf Association) – with the annual Kia Classic tournament returning to Carlsbad, Calif., in March – and the "Official Vehicle of the Southeastern Conference" (SEC).
Nearly five years after the iconic Soul urban passenger vehicle paved the way for a brand transformation, Kia's U.S. design studio totally transformed the funky and fun compact CUV for the 2014 model year by adding more refinement, more advanced technologies and a more dynamic driving experience than ever before. The second-generation Soul launched last Fall with a stylish new look for the brand's world-famous, music-loving hamsters in a multi-platform campaign set to the hit single, "Applause," from multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning artist Lady Gaga. The launch included a debut on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, a prominent role in the first-ever 2013 YouTube Music Awards, and a fleet of one-of-a-kind, music-inspired Souls, including one representing NBC's smash hit "The Voice" at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The "Totally Transformed" spot would go on to become the most viewed automotive ad on YouTube in 2013, and helped increase Soul sales for the fourth straight year to a new all-time high of more than 118,000 units.
At the conclusion of the 2013 season, Kia Racing finished second in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS-class Manufacturer Championship point standings, and driver Mark Wilkins in the #38 Optima Turbo, which was born at KMMG, scored two wins and six podium finishes throughout the season to finish third overall in the driver standings.
From large-scale marketing activities and road racing victories to charitable partnerships with DonorsChoose.org, DC Entertainment's "We Can Be Heroes" campaign, B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-active Driving School, The Ecology Center and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, 2013 was an historic year for the Kia brand, which continues to challenge everything.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA proudly serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and surpassed the 500,000 annual sales mark for the second consecutive year in 2013 following the launch of seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles, including the rear-drive K900 flagship sedan, Cadenza premium sedan, Sorento CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, the Forte compact sedan, Forte5 and Forte Koup, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and the Sedona minivan, through a network of more than 765 dealers across the United States. Kia's U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, builds the Optima* and Sorento* and is responsible for the creation of more than 14,000 plant and supplier jobs.
Information about KMA and its full vehicle line-up is available at www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com. To receive custom email notifications for press releases the moment they are published, subscribe at www.kiamedia.com/us/en/newsalert.
* 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.
SOURCE Kia Motors America