Kia has built its first Cheolima – a car developed exclusively for the Chinese market.

A ‘Job One’ ceremony, held at the plant site in Yencheng City, Jiangsu Province in China, was attended by various dignitaries and guests including Byung-Jae Park, Vice Chairman of Hyundai-Kia Motors.

Park said: “Kia, in cooperation with our partners in Dong-Feng Yueda, will further modernise and raise the capacity at our existing plant in Yencheng City for the Cheolima and the Pride. The new plant that we are currently constructing will feature state of the art production capabilities and will be by far the finest facility of its type in China. This plant will be used to produce the new models that we are developing for the Chinese market.”

He added: “As a member of the WTO, China will gradually lower tariffs and quotas on completed cars and automotive parts and the booming economy and increasing demand from the local market for automobiles presents great potential for Kia.”

Some analysts are predicting a Chinese market of 50 million vehicles by 2010, a Kia spokesman said.

Designed to cope with the wide extremes of climate and terrain in China and available in three trim levels, the Cheolima is a four-door saloon with a choice of 1.3- or 1.6-litre petrol engines.  The Chinese factory will build 5,000 cars this year with a production of 50,000 scheduled for 2003.

As well as the Cheolima and Pride, which is currently being assembled in China on a knock-down basis, DYK will produce other Kia models in the next two to three years in order to expand its market share and to lay the foundation to eventually produce and sell approximately half a million cars in China by 2010, the target year for Kia’s goal of becoming a global top five automaker as part of the Hyundai Automotive Group.