Kia expects to top 15 million units in exports from its South Korean factories this month, 40 years after its first shipment of 10 Brisa pickup trucks to Qatar in 1975.
While it took 30 years to reach the 5 million-export mark, Kia will ship its 15 millionth vehicle after only 10 additional years – and it has taken just four years and three months to go from 10 million to 15 million units.
Through May, the B-segment Rio has been the top Kia export with 2.23 million units shipped, ahead of the Sportage compact CUV (1.57 million), A-segment Picanto (1.43 million) and Sorento midsize CUV (1.08 million).
North America is the top destination for Kia’s South Korean exports with 6.03 million units, ahead of Europe (3.35 million), Middle East and Africa (2.52 million), Central and South America, including the Caribbean (1.71 million), and Asia-Pacific (1.29 million).
Kia vehicles now are manufactured at four plants in South Korea, which have benefited from continuous investment into production facilities and technology.
The Hyundai Motors affiliate has expanded annual production capacity in South Korea from 800,000 units in 2000 to 1.71 million in 2014 with more than 70% of domestic output exported.
Kia also has a growing overseas manufacturing presence, operating plants in Georgia in the U.S., Slovakia and China. It is building a plant in Mexico with annual capacity of 100,000 units when it opens in mid-2016.