The United States will be the key market for the Sportage SUV just launched at the Paris motor show, according to a Kia source.

The new model, offering a choice of V6 and four-cylinder petrol engines, a turbodiesel, and a diesel engine/automatic transmission combination still rare in the segment, is likely to be a strong competitor for models such as the Toyota RAV4 and Land Rover Freelander world-wide.

The source expected about 75,000 Sportages would go to North America in the first full year with about 35,000 heading to European markets including RHD UK.

Another 35,000 will be sold in the South Korean domestic and 'general export' territories.

Planned annual sales are therefore in the order of 150,000 units.

Graeme Roberts