March’s Car Makers Premier League (based on the SMMT figures for UK new car registrations in March 2009) show a lot of movement based on varying degrees of bad news. Unlike February which saw Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai notch up positive increases year-on-year (with Mazda increasing sales by a staggering 32%) all the car makers featured in the league for March showed a decrease in registrations. The big “winner” is Kia which is welcomed back (after being relegated last month) at the top spot and rather like Liverpool at the moment, can be regarded as the “comeback kings” having shifted 6346 units, just 2% down on last year. We also welcome back Land Rover who’s registrations for March have brought them back into the top 20 at number 17 albeit a whopping 37% down on March 2008. This month we have said goodbye to Volvo and Skoda who have been relegated because their March registration figures have taken them out of the top 20.
Although February was all about good news for Japanese and Korean manufacturers this month it’s the turn of the Germans with Audi, VW and BMW all improving on last month’s standings and Audi especially, going from 10th last month to 3rd in March with a comparatively respectable 10% drop in registrations year-on-year. Mid table mediocrity for Seat as they stay in 9th position with a 26% drop and Vauxhall, despite registering a mind boggling 17008 fewer cars than March last year move up from 14th to 10th (obviously taking advantage of worse performing manufacturers in plate change month). Lastly, rooted at the foot of the table remains Renault with a disastrous 53% drop in sales.
Can Kia maintain their new lofty position next month? Will Renault get out of the drop zone? Both scenarios would seem doubtful but who predicted Mazda’s amazing February performance? It certainly is a funny old game!
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This months Car Maker in Focus is….
Kia Motors, a subsidiary of Hyundai Kia Automotive Group formed after the 1998 merger with Hyundai, is South Korea’s 2nd largest automobile manufacturer with headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. The American arm is Kia Motors America. On October 20, 2006, Kia Motors America formally hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its first US assembly plant in West Point, Georgia, at an initial cost of over $1 billion. Since 2005, Kia has started to focus on the European market and is currently the UK’s fastest growing car company, voted Automotive Manufacturuer of the year in 2009 by Autocar Magazine, and had various other successes in the European market.
South Korea’s oldest car company, Kia was founded in 1944 as manufacturer of steel tubing and bicycles. In 1952, Kia changed its name from Kyungsung Precision Industry, and later built motorcycles, trucks and cars. Starting in 1986, in partnership with Ford, Kia produced several Mazda derived vehicles for both domestic sales in South Korea and exports into other countries. These models include the Pride (based on the Mazda 121) and Avella, which were sold in North America and Australasia as the Ford Festiva and Ford Aspire.
In 1992, Kia Motors America was incorporated in the United States. The first Kia-branded vehicles in the United States were sold from four dealerships in Portland, Oregon in February 1994. Since then, Kia expanded methodically one region at a time. Dealers in 1994 sold the Sephia, and a few years later the United States line expanded with the addition of the Sportage.
However, Kia’s bankruptcy in 1997, part of the Asian financial crisis, resulted in the company being acquired in 1998 by South Korean rival Hyundai Motor Company, outbidding Ford Motor Company which had owned an interest in Kia Motors since 1986.
In the UK Kia currently have the following models in their product range;