KIA Motors – part of the Hyundai Group – has reported that its first Chinese-manufactured passenger car, the Qianlima, is encountering surging popularity in China, with monthly sales surging over 200% to 3,437 units in January.

The 1.6-litre Qianlima is produced locally under Kia’s 50-50 joint-venture with Dongfeng Yueda Kia Motors Co., was introduced in December and achieved sales of 1,547 units in its first month on sale.

In remarks reported by the Korea Herald, the company claims that production can barely keep up with demand in China.

“The response by Chinese motorists to the Qianlima has been explosive. Production can hardly keep up with demand,” Chung Dal-ok, president and CEO of Dongfeng Yueda Kia Motors, was quoted as saying in the company’s press release.

Kia also said that its Pride hatchback model continues to sell well in China.

The Pride, launched in China in late 1997, recorded sales of 18,497 units last year, up from 573 in 1999, 2,214 in 2000 and 6,673 in 2001.

The Korea Herald reported that Kia is planning to expand its Chinese annual output capacity to 150,000 vehicles by 2005.