Kia Hits 18 Consecutive Years of Market Gains

For a long time, Kia has been considered a scrappy underdog in the U.S. auto market. The brand is known for value rather than flashy designs, and looking over the top selling cars of the past few years, it would seem that flash is winning out. Kia didn’t break the top 10 best-selling cars for 2010, 2011, or 2012, and while Kia won a decent number of design awards in 2012, it isn’t a brand that typically makes headlines.

So why can’t the Kia leadership stop smiling?

Last week, Kia announced that the end of 2012 marked 18 consecutive years of market share growth in the United States. In 1994, Kia started selling in the United States, and they only sold 692 cars that year. Like the tortoise in the classic fable, though, Kia has slowly and steadily built their sales year after year. 100,000 units were sold in 1999, and by 2007, they had tripled that number. They shot past the 500,000 mark in 2012 with sales of 557,599, 15 percent higher sales than the year before.

Though Kia’s sales are impressive, they are still years away from competing with the big dogs. The Ford F-Series, the top selling vehicle of 2012, sold 645,316 units, more than Kia sold overall. Still, other automakers should take lessons from Kia such as their “flexible factories” and model redesigns that sparked a new interest in the brand. Hopefully Kia’s success will push other auto makers to step up their game and produce better and more affordable cars.

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