DETROIT — 2011 was a record-shattering year for Kia Motors America (KMA) that saw record sales every month, more awards and accolades for its vehicles and the Kia brand than ever before, and the 17th straight year of increased market share to an all-time high of 3.8 percent as the company broke its annual sales record with 485,492 units sold. Additionally, Kia achieved several important milestones, including a 36.3-percent increase in year-over-year sales; the start of U.S. production of the popular Optima midsize sedan; creation of 1,000 new jobs and the addition of a third shift at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG); winning the brand’s first-ever motorsports championships in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge; and expanded brand visibility through a partnership with basketball all-star Blake Griffin, who famously leaped over an Optima to become the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest champion and now serves as a global ambassador for the brand.
- Fast-Growing Brand Surpasses All-Time Best Annual Sales in Less than Nine Months and Records 17th Consecutive Year of Increased Market Share.
- Kia completes the most aggressive new product launch cycle in the industry – nine vehicles in less than three years – and delivers a 36.3-percent year-over-year sales increase — New partnerships with NBA superstar Blake Griffin and the LPGA and one of the most widely viewed viral videos in the world improve brand awareness, perception and consideration.
One of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S., Kia’s unprecedented growth is the direct result of the company’s design-led transformation, which delivered nine new vehicles in less than three years – more than any other automaker – and was capped in 2011 with the debuts of the all-new 2012 Rio 5-door and the Optima Hybrid. In September, Kia’s first hybrid in the U.S. set a new Guinness World Record for lowest fuel consumption by a gasoline hybrid car traveling through all 48 contiguous U.S. states, achieving more than 64 miles per gallon over nearly 8,000 miles.
“2011 was an historic year for Kia in the U.S. and the company has changed dramatically over the past three years,” said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and KMMG. “Our complete lineup of fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has captured the attention of a wide variety of consumers, many who had never before considered Kia and are now cross-shopping us against a larger mix of well-established brands. Kia dealers are seeing new, younger, more style-conscious and more affluent customers in their showrooms thanks to eye-catching vehicles such as the Optima, Sorento and Soul, and we look forward to continuing our success in 2012 with the arrival of new technologies.”
With several key initiatives planned for 2012, Kia Motors is poised to continue to drive increased consumer interest and will continue to expand its brand presence with new and enhanced partnerships while continuing to deliver world-class design, cutting-edge technology, modern conveniences and amenities, and outstanding safety features in all its vehicles.
- Sales: KMA surpassed its previous annual sales total in just nine months and sold more than 485,000 vehicles in the U.S. for the first time in company history. KMA’s annual sales record was highlighted by best-ever quarterly sales in Q2 with 140,330 units sold, besting the previous record of 104,774 units sold in Q1 2011. The U.S.-built Sorento was the brand’s best-selling vehicle for the second straight year and the Soul urban passenger vehicle joined Kia’s popular CUV as the brand’s second vehicle to exceed sales of 100,000 units in one year.
- KMMG/Optima: On September 2, the Optima midsize sedan was added to the production line at KMMG, and the plant hired and trained more than 1,000 new team members and added a third shift to support the additional volume. Together with local suppliers, KMMG is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 direct and supplier jobs. The plant produced its 300,000th vehicle in July 2011 and began a $100 million expansion to increase annual capacity to 360,000 vehicles in 2012.
- Advanced Technology: Co-developed with Microsoft® and based on Windows Embedded Auto software, UVO (meaning “Your Voice”) was launched in June in the 2011 Optima Hybrid, 2012 Sorento, 2012 Sportage, and 2012 Optima. UVO provides Kia drivers with simple access to vehicle audio systems, music media in various formats and cell phone content. It also allows users to answer and place phone calls, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences.
- Thinking Green: The 2011 Optima Hybrid, Kia’s first-ever hybrid vehicle in the U.S., went on sale on the West and East coasts in June and earned the distinction of Kia’s first vehicle to achieve up to 40 miles per gallon. The Optima Hybrid was recognized by Guinness World Records for the lowest fuel consumption by a gasoline hybrid car traveling through all 48 contiguous U.S. states, delivering more than 64 mpg over nearly 8,000 miles. The 2012 Rio 5-door became the second Kia vehicle to deliver up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway and at the end of its lifespan 85-percent of the vehicle’s content is recyclable. Additionally, Kia Motors announced plans to introduce its first all-electric vehicle for global markets in 2014, which will be based on a CUV body style. Kia also is actively working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop vehicles that use alternative energy.
- Memorable Marketing: Building on the momentum of KMA’s highly successful first-ever Super Bowl ad in 2010, the brand followed it up with the biggest vehicle launch in company history for the 2011 Optima midsize sedan, including Times Square advertising and a second Super Bowl spot titled “One Epic Ride.” The ad, in which people across space and time – from a police officer and an international villain to aliens and an ancient chief – go to great lengths to snatch the Optima from the clutches of others and put themselves behind the wheel, increased online search activity by more than 700 percent following the game and Optima consideration by 255 percent.
The worldwide popularity of Kia’s music-loving hamsters grew in 2011 with the debut of a new advertisement titled “Share Some Soul.” First seen in movie theaters nationwide and during the MTV Movie Awards, the spot is set in a dark, futuristic videogame world in which the hamsters turn a fierce battle between alien robots and humanoids into an interstellar dance party set to the tune of electro-pop group LMFAO’s number-one Billboard hit “Party Rock Anthem.” To date, the video has more than 12 million views on YouTube and was the recipient of numerous industry accolades, including being named one of Mashable’s “10 Most Innovative Viral Video Ads of 2011.” The pop culture icon status of Kia’s hamsters was recognized when they were named the first-ever “Rookie of the Year” in the annual Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame public vote.
Kia also continued its role as the “Official Automotive Partner of the NBA,” and in February, Los Angeles Clippers All-Star power forward Blake Griffin (with a little help from Baron Davis) leaped over an Optima to win the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. In addition to becoming the only professional basketball player with a global marketing relationship with an automaker, Griffin also appeared in a series of witty ads to tout the safety and technology features of the Optima.
As part of KMA’s strategic marketing plan, the company continued its partnerships with golf superstar Michelle Wie, one of the most recognizable youth athletes in the world, and again served as the title sponsor of the Kia Classic LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) golf tournament., Kia also announced that the brand will serve as the Official Automotive Partner of the LPGA beginning in 2012, which will see the Kia Classic return to the renowned La Costa Resort and Spa in San Diego, Calif. in March.
Championship Winning Motorsports Program: After just two seasons and 20 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) races, KMA’s motorsports program achieved championship status when the No. 10 Infinity Audio Forte Koup and Nic Jönsson captured the Team and Driver titles, respectively, in the Street Tuner class.
For 2012, Kia Racing is expanding its motorsports footprint to include new vehicles and series. The Infinity Audio Forte Koups will make their return to GRAND-AM to defend their ST titles, while the U.S.-built, turbocharged Optima SX will hit the track in the Pirelli World Challenge. Kia’s racing partner, Kinetic Motorsports, will campaign two Optima World Challenge cars as Kia Racing hits the grid on eight famous U.S. circuits, including the streets of Long Beach, Infineon Raceway and the Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit.
The Optima is not the only Kia vehicle being summoned for race track duty in 2012. At the 2011 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, Kia announced that the all-new Rio 5-door will compete in the newly created B-Spec showroom stock series. The Rio 5-door B-Spec racecar will compete in the newly established showroom stock racing class in 2012 against a variety of subcompact competitors including the Mazda2, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Sonic in a range of motorsports events sanctioned by various organizing bodies, including World Challenge, GRAND-AM, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Showroom stock racing provides an affordable avenue for auto enthusiasts to participate in the excitement of competitive motorsports with a vehicle like the all-new 2012 Rio 5-door that is fun to drive, fuel-efficient and stylish.
Awards & Accolades:
- 2012 Optima named to the “Top Ten Drives List for 2012” by The Boston Globe
- 2012 Optima, Sorento, Soul and Sportage achieve Consumers Digest “Best Buys”
- 2011 Optima and Sorento named to “Ten Most Improved Cars of 2011” list by MSNBC.com
- 2011 Optima Hybrid named to “Top 10 Cars of the Year” list by Hispanic Motor Press Association
- 2011 Optima named “Most Gorgeous Car Under $20k” by Esquire
- 2011 Optima named to the “Ward’s 10 Best Interiors” list by Ward’s AutoWorld
- 2011 Optima named to “Top 10 Best Buy Cars for 2011” list by Auto A Fondo
- 2011 Optima named one of the “Top 10 Cars to Look Forward to in 2011” by CarsDirect.com
- 2011 Optima and Sportage named “Best New Model” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
- 2011 Optima honored as “Best of 2011” by Cars.com
- 2011 Optima awarded Edmunds’ InsideLine.com “Editors’ Most Wanted” award
- 2012 Rio 5-door named to Vroomgirls.com’s first-ever “Vroomies Best Cars of the Year” awards list
- 2011 Rio named a “Best Overall Value” on the “Most Fuel-Efficient Vehicles List” by TrueCar.com
- 2012 Soul and Forte Koup named to MSN Autos’ “10 Great Cars for Less Than $20,000” list
- 2011 Soul and Forte 5-door named to “Top 10 Urban Cars” list by Cars.com
- “Share Some Soul” advertising campaign named to Mashable’s “10 Most Innovative Viral Video Ads of 2011” list
- “Share Some Soul” campaign named first-ever “Rookie of the Year” in annual Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame public vote
- 2011 Sorento and Sedona named to NADAguides’ “Best Car Buys for 2011” list in SUV and Van categories, respectively
- 2011 Sorento named one of the “Best Family Cars of 2011” by Parents magazine and Edmunds.com
- 2011 Sorento named to “Best Cars for Families” list by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
- 2011 Sorento named to “Top 10 Family Cars of 2011” list by Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com
- 2011 Sportage earned AutoPacific 2011 “Vehicle Satisfaction Award”
- 2011 Sportage named “2011 Northwest Affordable SUV of the Year” by Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA)
- 2011 Sportage named “Best New Crossover Vehicle” in About.com’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards
- 2011 Sportage named “International Truck of the Year” by ICOTY jury
- 2011 Forte Koup named one of the “Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000” by Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com
- 2011 Sedona named “Best Reviewed” in Budget Minivan category by ConsumerSearch.com
- 2011 Sedona named “Best Minivan for the Money” for 2011 by U.S. News & World Report
- Kia Motors America posts highest brand loyalty ranking in study by Experian Automotive
- Kia Motors America named Best Total Cost of Ownership Brand by Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com
- Kia Motors America recognized as “Most Improved Mainstream Brand” in Automotive Lease Guide (ALG) report
- Kia Motors America named Auto Industry Leader in Customer Loyalty Increases by Polk
- Kia’s 1.6-liter Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine named to Ward’s AutoWorld’s “2012 10 Best Engines” list
- “This or That” campaign awarded Gold Effie during the 2011 North American Effie Awards
- “This or That” campaign named “Automotive Ad of the Year” by the Nielsen Company
- Kia Racing achieves first-ever GRAND-AM road racing championships with Driver and Team titles in 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC)
Kia’s Unprecedented Growth
Kia Motors is the one of the world’s fastest moving global automotive brands; from 2009-2011 Kia launched more new vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer earned a reputation as an industry leader in automotive styling. Kia Motors America’s full line of fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has earned critical acclaim and dramatically increased consumer awareness, perception and consideration for the brand. In 2011, KMA recorded its 17th consecutive year of market share growth, thanks in part to the largest increase of any major brand in perceived quality and the industry’s highest brand loyalty ranking. Kia’s U.S.-based manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia – KMMG – is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and builds the company’s two best-selling vehicles in the U.S. – the Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan. Kia’s value and technology-laden 2012 model year lineup also includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, all-new Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the “Official Automotive Partner of the NBA.” In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.
* Assembled in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts. Optima Hybrid will not be built in the USA. Based on comparison of 12-month retail sales from September 2007 to September 2011 of all U.S. automotive brands and five-year average sales growth.  Source: Automotive Lease Guide Spring 2011 Perceived Quality Study  Source: Experian Automotive Q2 2011 market analysis  Optima Hybrid is not built at KMMG