Kia has produced its 10 millionth car with an Optima rolling off the production line and into the record books at the Hwasung factory, less than seven years after the five millionth car was built in December 1995.

Kia has been producing cars for 58 years and the 10 million milestone was reached 28 years after exports began. The one million mark was passed in 1988.

"Production of our ten millionth car is a significant milestone for Kia Motors, and puts us on track toward our long term goal of becoming a top five global automaker by 2010," said senior executive vice president Mark Juhn, Kia's chief operating officer and head of the international business division.

The figure was helped by cumulative overseas production capacity, which has now passed 790,000 units. Kia began its first overseas manufacturing operation in Taiwan in 1989 and today assembles vehicle in 11 countries including China, Malaysia and Ecuador.

For years Kia's products were licence-built Mazda models using the Japanese company's engines and the company also built Festiva/Aspire versions of its Pride/Avella subcompacts on an OEM basis for Ford to sell in the USA and south east Asia.

But Kia now shares technology, engine and platform designs with Hyundai following the takeover by its Korean rival in the late 1990s.

Worker productivity has increased from 34.6 units per worker in 1988 to 48.8 units in 2002 due to advances in automation and improved production management. Productivity is expected to increase this year to 54 units per worker.

Kia also expects to raise production to over one million cars a year in 2002 as domestic production is forecast at 938,000 units, supplemented by another 130,000 built overseas for a total of 1,068,000 units.

Total production for 2001 was 976,034, including 124,392 knock-down kits produced for assembly overseas.

Founded in 1944, Kia Motors Corporation is Korea's oldest car manufacturer and the company currently exports around 600,000 vehicles per year through a network of distributors that covers 160 countries.