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Kia Exports 10 Millionth Vehicle

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author photo by Autotrader March 2011

It's a milestone 35 years in the making: Kia has officially exported 10 million vehicles. The South Korean automaker marked the milestone last week with a celebration at its main shipping hub, Pyeongtaek Port, attended by executives, local government officials and foreign dignitaries stationed in Korea.

According to Kia, the ten-millionth vehicle was a US-bound 2011 Optima finished in Snow White Pearl.  That's a far cry from the tiny Brisa, the first-ever automotive export for both Kia and South Korea. Powered by a puny 1-liter four-cylinder engine, the tiny Brisa would be dwarfed by today's Mini Cooper. It was exported in small quantities to Qatar throughout the 1970s.

These days, it's a different story entirely. In 2010, Kia accounted for a shocking 2.4 percent of all South Korean exports, worth a total of $11.2 billion. The automaker now boasts seven factories, including two outside South Korea: one in Zilina, Slovakia, and the other in the US in West Point, Georgia. And while it took nearly thirty years for Kia to hit five million exports, it took the automaker just five more to double that figure.

"The last year was an exceptionally positive one for Kia Motors, and we expect to build on our momentum through 2011," said Benny Oeyen, vice president of marketing and product planning for Kia Motors Europe. "The fact that half our 10 million global exports have been achieved in the past five years is further proof that our design-led product revolution has achieved its aim of establishing Kia as a major player in the global automotive market."

The export milestone wasn't Kia's only cause for celebration last week. On Thursday, the automaker's Slovakia plant announced that it hit record output levels in 2010, producing a total of 229,500 cars – up 52 percent year over year. The plant also announced engine production was up to 320,900 units, an increase of 31 percent versus 2009.

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Kia Exports 10 Millionth Vehicle - Autotrader