Kia exports to Europe have reached an all-time high. Europe’s fastest-growing auto brand exported a total of 112,787 passenger cars and light trucks to the region during the first half of 2004 – a 49% increase over the 75,475 vehicles sold during same period of last year. The company’s export growth to Europe outpaced its total worldwide rise in exports for the first half (39.3%) by nearly 10%.

Kia attributes the increase largely to the introduction of two new models (the A-segment Picanto and the C-segment Cerato), a rapidly expanding sales network that added 200 new dealers last year, stepped-up local marketing activities, and brand enhancement resulting from the announcement that it will build in Slovakia its first-ever European manufacturing facility.

The Picanto, which arrived in showrooms across Europe in April of this year, has experienced booming popularity, with 1,492 units sold in April, 4,470 units in May and 6,071 units in June.

Europe’s share of Kia’s worldwide exports has steadily risen in recent years, growing from 20.6% in 2001 to 31.8% in the first half of 2004, eclipsing the 30% mark for the first time ever. Based on the rapid emergence of Europe as a key market, the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group is striving to achieve a long-term export structure consisting of 40% of exports to North America, 40% to Europe and 20% to the rest of the world.

The company’s next launch is the Sportage compact SUV.

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