BRATISLAVA -- Kia Motors Corp. built a record number of vehicles at its factory in Slovakia last year to meet rising demand for sport-utility vehicles including the Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35
The South Korean carmaker's Slovak unit produced 229,505 vehicles in 2010 in Zilina, Slovakia, compared with a target of 228,000 cars and 150,000 vehicles shipped in 2009, said Dusan Dvorak, a spokesman for the unit. Engine production at the factory rose 32 percent to 320,900 units, he said.
Kia and its affiliate Hyundai Motors Co. plan to tap rising demand for small SUVs to gain market share in Europe. SUVs represented 58 percent of Kia's Slovak output last year, up from about 20 percent in 2009. "Last year was good for us," Dvorak told journalists on Thursday. "Growth was achieved thanks to the new models."
The carmaker began to build a new generation of its Sportage SUV and the new Hyundai ix35 cars at Zilina last year. The plant, which opened in 2006, also makes the Cee'd compact car.
2011 output boost
The unit is sticking to its plan to increase output to about 240,000 vehicles this year, Dvorak said.
The Zilina factory will in the second half of this year take over production of the Kia Venga from Hyundai's plant in the Czech Republic, which will in turn begin assembling Hyundai ix35 model.