Kia benchmarks Volkswagen in bid to be a 'people's brand'
Kia Motors Corp. is benchmarking Volkswagen as it aims to become the world's best-loved car brand, said the company's vice president Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee.
Kia wants to be a "people's brand" like Volkswagen, Lee told Automotive News Europe in an interview.
He said to achieve the goal the company is using Volkswagen models as its standard for the development of new cars.
For the new Kia Cee'd compact car that will go on sale in Europe next year, Kia's target "in terms of ride and handling is the VW Golf," Lee said.
"We want to become the world's best-loved brand. This will automatically translate into sales volume and market share," he added.
Kia aims to increase its annual global car sales to 2.8 million in 2014 from an expected 2.4 million this year, Lee said.
This year, the company's global production will be more than 2.5 million vehicles, including some Hyundai models that Kia produces in its plants in the United States and Slovakia.
Kia will increase production in the United States from 280,000 to 360,000 units next year and it also has ambitious sales goals in the country. Lee said Kia is aiming for a record 500,000 car sales in the U.S. in 2012 from an expected 470,000 this year.
Kia will not expand production capacity too fast, Lees said. The company has learned from Toyota which ran into quality issues as it expanded global production rapidly to become the top global automaker.
Said Lee: "If we increase our capacity too fast, there is the risk of a lot of mistakes like at Toyota. They grew too fast. Their employees and suppliers couldn't follow and they couldn't keep their original system."