Blog: Simon WarburtonKia gives new brand sporting chance

Simon Warburton | 19 October 2010

You know it's not a busy airport when one of the air traffic controllers steps out on to the balcony to take a picture of your arriving aircraft.

The ATC snapper got his camera out as I flew to Kia Motors' Slovakian home of Zilina - the same venue for Chelsea's recent Champions League game - for the UK press launch of its snazzy new Sportage range this week.

The subsequent route Kia chose to showcase its very impressive petrol and diesel Sportage models took us right to the edge - and thousands of feet high - of the Polish border in the Tatras Mountains - although somebody had clearly tipped off the local constabulary Her Majesty's Press was in town as half the Slovak police seemed to be patrolling the roads.

A quick factory tour of the massive Kia plant in Zalina this morning emphasized just how this corner of Slovak has embraced automation - barely a human in sight - although ironically the factory is one of the town's largest employers with nearly 3,000 staff.

Kia spends a considerable amount of time and its cash in persuading people of its brands' merits - and backs it up with a seven-year warranty to boot.

A central European location, skilled workforce and perhaps a one-off shot in the arm of various scrappage schemes, has given Kia a massive boost. Can they sustain it?

By the way, departing Zilina airport this afternoon on one of the shortest runways I have ever seen for a jet, the BAe 146 aircraft stood on its brakes at full power before unleashing the might of its four engines and roared down the tarmac as if a cork was popped from a bottle. How did Chelsea and all their kit cope?



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