Kia to take on VW

6 Jul, 2011 5:05pm Graham Hope

Kia is ready to take on the likes of Volkswagen as it continues its march further upmarket

At the launch of the new Kia Rio in South Korea today, bosses confirmed that they were targeting European makers rather than American ones, as they strive to build on the firm's phenomenal growth over the last few years.

Projected sales figures for the Rio are bullish, with a company insider insisting 20,000 a year in the UK is a target in the mid term, almost treble its current figure of around 6,000 cars.

This optimism follows an amazing period of success for Kia, which saw sales rise 27 per cent globally in 2010 to nearly 2.1 million. And the firm has earmarked becoming a world leader in making economically minded cars as the key to its further expansion.

The Eco Dynamics version of the new Rio will be powered by a 1.1-litre three-cylinder diesel engine, and will be much lighter than the standard car, helping it to post class-leading economy and emissions figures of 88mpg and just 85g/km of C02.

But unlike rival makers, it is not committing itself to a single technology. "We are exploring all options," said Soon-Nam Lee, director of overseas marketing.

To that end, a petrol-electric hybrid Optima with a 2.0-litre engine and small electric motor will arrive in Europe in 2012, and could go on sale in the UK, depending on the cost of right-hand-drive conversion.

An all-electric compact utility vehicle - possibly based on the next generation Soul - will follow in 2014, while fuel cell technology could be in use by 2015. A plug-in hybrid is also thought to be under development.

The Korean giant's stated aim is to become the world's leading maker of fuel-efficient cars.
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