Kia Motors says it has passed the 1m accumulated export mark to Latin America - excluding exports by overseas plants - with its latest shipment of ethanol-gasoline powered Soul Flex vehicles to Brazil.

The 1m milestone is 33 years after Kia made its first shipment to the continent of 353 Brisa passenger sedans to Costa Rica in 1977. Exports to the region have grown by more than 123 times over a period of 33 years.

"This accomplishment of reaching 1m vehicle exports to Latin America is the result of our efforts to elevate the level of quality and styling of our product line-up, while tapping into new markets," said senior EVP & COO Thomas Oh.

"We plan to actively respond to the growing demand not only in this region but in other emerging markets like China as we further solidify our image as a global brand."
 
Key export countries for Kia Motors in Latin America include Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

The company adds it is aggressively targeting the Brazilian market in particular, which recorded 24,808 sales units in 2009. That figure is expected to increase by 102% this year to reach around 53,000 units.

Meanwhile, Kia has achieved 10% market share - third place among all makers - in the Chilean market, 6% market share - fourth place - in Colombia and 21% market share - first place - in Paraguay.
 
Based on the momentum, Kia Motors predicts 2010 sales in Latin America will grow by 75% compared to the previous year to post 136,000 units. Regional market share is also forecast to increase from 1.5% to 2.4% during the same period.