SEOUL -- Kia says it aims to lift vehicle sales in Europe and the United States by double-digit percentages this year, despite an uncertain economic environment, and targets a 9.5 percent rise in global sales.
The announcement came as the automaker reported that net profit for the October-December quarter fell 3.5 percent to 790.4 billion won ($704.52 million) from a year earlier, well below a consensus forecast of 1.1 trillion won.
Kia said it aimed to boost sales in Europe by 22.8 percent to 356,000 vehicles and U.S. sales by 10 percent to 534,000 vehicles this year.
Kia joins sibling Hyundai in seeking to aggressively increase sales in Europe this year as local automakers struggle from the region's debt crisis.
In 2011, Kia grew sales in the EU and EFTA countries by 11.8 percent to 293,960, according to figures from the Brussels-based industry organization ACEA.
Together with Hyundai, this gave Kia a 5.2 percent market share in the region.
At the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month, industry executives predicted a steady recovery in U.S. car demand, but were far less bullish about the European market, which is forecast to contract about 5 percent for a fifth consecutive annual decline.
Hyundai and Kia, which combined rank fifth in global car sales, also forecast their breakneck sales growth in the U.S. and globally to soften this year.
Kia said it aimed to raise global sales to 2.71 million vehicles this year, from 2.48 million last year, which would mark 9.5 percent growth - half that of last year.
Kia reported 36 percent growth in U.S. sales last year.
Kia's Chief Financial Officer Lee Jae-rok said the company planned to launch a full revamp of its Cee'd small car in Europe this year, and its new premium large K9 sedan in South Korea in the second quarter.
"The K9 will be priced between (Hyundai's) Genesis and Equus ... We aim to sell more than 2,000 K9s per month in the domestic market," Lee told an earnings conference call.
He also said the company had no "detailed plan" to expand production capacity other than a planned third plant in China, adding that the company was reviewing capacity as part of the "mid- and long-term master plan" it was working on.
Source: Reuters; Automotive News Europe