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Kia Ready to Take Advantage of Growing Car Demand

Published: September 18, 2013 (Issue # 1778)



  • With the Russian market showing potential for growth, Kim says Kia is ready to meet demand with an affordable product lineup.
    Photo: Igor Tabakov / SPT

Kia Motors could invest inmaking more cars inRussia, where it is thethird best selling brand, if themarket rebounds andshoots past the3-million mark, theSouth Korean companys local chief said.

If overall sales ofnew vehicles climb to3.5 million units, it will be agood enough number toconsider committing money toa new assembly line, said Kim Seong Hwan, thecarmakers president inRussia.

All our studies are ready, he said ina rare interview.

Kim did not say when themarket might expand that much. Russia may surpass that level in2018 atbest, according toOleg Datskiv, chief executive ofmarket research portal Auto-Dealer.ru.

Fornow, sales are ona slippery slope. Customers are likely tobuy 2.8 million new vehicles this year, which would be afive-percent decline fromlast year, theAssociation ofEuropean Businesses predicted inJune.

Kia cars now roll off assembly lines attwo locations inRussia. One is aSt. Petersburg plant co-owned with sister company Hyundai Motors, which allotted Kia thecapacity tomanufacture 100,000 vehicles now theRio model, thethird bestselling car brand inRussia.

Kia can also order thesame amount ofcars froma Kaliningrad plant that belongs toAvtotor andnow cranks out nine models forthe brand.

TheKorean car giant aims tosell 200,000 cars locally this year, including imports, meaning it will not utilize its full Russian production capacity.

If Kias main office decides toadd local assembly lines, it may choose places other than St. Petersburg, Kim said.

Ina declining market, Kia is one ofa few brands that are going against thetide. It sold four percent more cars inthe first seven months ofthis year than inthe same period last year, according todata bythe Association ofEuropean Businesses inRussia.

Kim attributed therobust performance toautomobile designs byPeter Schreyer, aGerman designer known forhis work atAudi, who joined theKorean company in2006. Inaddition, Russians appreciate theyoung anddynamic spirit ofthe brand, Kim said.

With a seven percent market share, Kia trails behind thelocal auto industry champion AvtoVAZ andFrances Renault.

Inorder tocapitalize onRussias growing appetite forexpensive sedans, Kia brought its Quoris model tothe market in March thefirst time thecompany introduced aluxury car here, Kim said.

It is also taking proper note ofthe growing popularity ofsport utility vehicles ina country where anincreasing number ofpeople can afford them fordriving through snow andotherwise rough terrain. Kim estimated that theproportion ofSUV sales would bump to38 percent inabout three years fromits current 33 percent.

Kim agreed with acommonly held view that Russia could overtake Germany as thelargest European market forcars atsome point before theend ofthis decade. Russias relatively low number ofcar owners approximately half ofthe 500 vehicles per 1,000 people inEurope holds promise forgrowth. Also, more than half ofcars inthe country are older than 10 years, meaning theres a likelihood that owners will discard them fornew ones.

As alarger number ofcustomers are about tostart shopping forautomobiles, Kia is preparing tocounter therenewal ofthe affordable product lineup byAvtoVAZ andthe success ofRenault inthe low-cost segment with theLogan model, Kim said.

We are watching them closely, he said. We have plans athand torespond strongly tothe offers ofour competitors.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Dec. 18


Improve your English and knowledge of British culture during todays FORM lesson at the British Book Center. These free English lessons with a native speaker elaborate not only on grammar particulars but cultural topics as well. Todays event will discuss the BBC Two documentary Victorian Farm Christmas.



Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The citys Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during todays Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


TheZenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the clubs website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBAs and Capital Legal Services event Arctic Expedition this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



To have your event included in All About Town, email tot@sptimes.ru



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