Kia confident on record Slovak output in 2012 after strong first-half production
South Korean carmaker Kia expects record production to top 285,000 cars at its Slovakia plant this year, boosted by a strong first-half performance.
Kia Slovakia reported a 10 percent rise in production to 149,000 cars in the January to June period, bucking a trend of declining output and sales at some western European manufacturers.
Eek-Hee Lee, CEO of the Slovak unit, said European and Russian demand for the Sportage medium SUV, the Venga small minivan and the Cee'd compact produced at the plant was lifting output.
Some 20 percent of Kia's Slovak production is sold in Russia, with 12 percent exported to Britain and 11 percent to France.
Russian sales of the brand grew 19 percent last month to 17,307, making Kia the fourth best-selling automaker in the country, the Moscow-based Association for European Businesses (AEB) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The company, among the euro zone country's biggest exporters, posted a 10 percent rise in production last year to 252,000 vehicles, beating its pre-crisis peak of 201,000 cars in 2008 for a second consecutive year.
The Slovak car industry, which includes assembly plants for Volkswagen and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and the sector's suppliers, is a key driver of the heavily export-reliant economy and makes up as much as 13 percent of GDP.
Production at Kia's plant in the northern town of Zilina makes up over 10 percent of the company's global output.
Kia said it will adjust its Slovak production lines to launch a new model during a scheduled summer break for two weeks at the end of July and beginning of August.
Sales of Kia vehicles in the EU and EFTA countries rose 24.6 percent to 139,576 in the first five months, according to data from the auto industry group ACEA. Collective sales in the region dropped 7.3 percent in the same period.
Reuters contributed to this reportContact Automotive News