Sime Darby Kia Taiwan Co (台灣森納美起亞) yesterday introduced three Kia models, marking the re-entry of the South Korean brand to the local market after Taikoo Motors Ltd (太古運通) stopped distribution in 2008.
The company, a local unit of Malaysia-based Sime Darby Motors Sdn Bhd, hopes to sell 4,000 Kia cars in Taiwan by the end of next year.
“As a new brand, our first goal is to increase the visibility of Kia cars in Taiwan,” Sime Darby Kia Taiwan managing director Eau Chian-boon (游劍文) said at a launch ceremony in Taipei for the 1.2-liter Kia Morning subcompact, the 2-liter Kia Soul crossover and the 2.36-liter Kia Optima sedan.
The Kia Morning is priced between NT$479,800 (US$15,650) and NT$549,800, the Kia Soul at NT$869,800 to NT$969,800 and the Kia Optima at NT$1.2 million.
Sime Darby Kia Taiwan plans to launch a locally manufactured diesel and gasoline-powered Kia Caren compact multipurpose vehicle next month, Eau said, adding that the vehicle is now undergoing certification.
Sanyang Industry Co (三陽工業), which assembles Hyundai cars in Taiwan, will also produce Kia cars, chairman Dennis Ho (何國文) said.
Ho said the company aims to sell 3,000 locally made Morning and Caren cars, and 1,000 imported cars by the end of next year.
Over the next five years, the company hopes to sell 10,000 cars a year in Taiwan, he said.
“Kia is a different brand now compared with five years ago when it exited Taiwan,” especially after the South Korean firm hired Peter Schreyer — who designed the Audi TT two-door sports car — in 2006, Ho said.
Kia Motors was the world’s eighth-largest automaker last year, with sales of 2.83 million cars, according to figures provided by Sime Darby Kia Taiwan.
In the first nine months of the year, Kia Motors sold 2.26 million cars worldwide, up 8.8 percent year-on-year. It is forecast to sell 3 million by the end of this year, Sime Darby Kia Taiwan said.
Sime Darby Kia Taiwan has set up 10 showrooms in Taiwan, including two brand centers in Taipei’s Beitou (北投) and Neihu (內湖) districts. It has no plans for further showroom expansion at present, so it can focus on service quality, Ho said.
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