Kia Motors America Begins New Era In U.S. After Two Decades Of Growth And Maturation
Kia's signature combination of European-inspired styling, world-class quality, advanced technology and outstanding value continues to raise perception of the brand with consumers and industry observers alike, attracting more affluent and style-conscious customers into showrooms and leading to more industry awards and accolades in 2014 than ever before. According to Interbrand's exclusive list of the 100 "Best Global Brands," Kia's brand value has risen by 480-percent since the hiring of president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer – outpacing the average growth rate of all 11 other automakers on the list over the same period. Additional 2014 honors and achievements included:
• Ranked 6th in the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Studysm (IQS) – (second Top 10 ranking)
• Highest-ranked mainstream brand in Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index Study
• Named "Best Value Brand" by Kelley Blue Book®
• Ranked 35th by Interbrand as a Top 50 Green Brand
"More customers turned to Kia last year than ever before as we celebrated our 20th anniversary in the U.S., and as we begin the new year, our robust marketing and sales initiatives will continue to drive interest and consideration for Kia and its world-class vehicles," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, sales & marketing, KMA. "Kia's long-term strategy of concentrating on quality, strengthening the brand, elevating the ownership experience and identifying new opportunities for growth has had a powerful and transformative effect as we continue to challenge everything people think they know about the brand."
Another major contributor to Kia's success in 2014 is the brand's U.S. manufacturing plant – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – in West Point, Georgia. The plant, which is responsible for the creation of more than 14,000 direct and supplier jobs, assembles the Optima and Sorento, which were two of Kia's top three sellers last year. As further evidence of the company's unwavering commitment and ambition, construction of a second North American manufacturing facility is currently underway in Mexico and will increase vehicle supply in the U.S. when production begins in 2016.
As part of KMA's strategic marketing plan, Kia executed several major sports and music sponsorships and initiatives in 2014, including joining NBC's "Sunday Night Football," 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, MTV's Video Music Awards and NBC's "The Voice." Kia also returned as a Super Bowl advertiser in 2014 for the fifth straight year with the K900 starring in a 60-second spot and recently announced its return to the big game in 2015 with the all-new Sorento starring alongside Pierce Brosnan in this year's spot. Also in 2014, Kia expanded its role as the "Official Automotive Partner of the NBA" with a new multiyear agreement, and ten-time NBA All-Star Lebron James joined Kia's roster of high-profile ambassadors, which includes fellow NBA All-Star Blake Griffin, tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, and U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie. Kia continues to serve as the "Official Automotive Partner of the LPGA" (Ladies Professional Golf Association) – with the annual Kia Classic tournament returning to Carlsbad, California, in March.
2014 also marked Kia's fifth year of road racing in the U.S., and at the conclusion of the season Kia became the first Korean brand to win the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Grand Touring Sport (GTS) Manufacturer Championship on the strength of five pole positions, five race wins and 13 podium finishes during the 16-race PWC season. Adding to the championship haul was rookie Jason Wolfe, pilot of the No. 36 Richard Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup, who also scored four wins and 10 podium finishes in 2014 to secure the PWC Driver Championship in the Touring Car A (TC-A) class and earn Kia its second PWC Manufacturer title of the year.
From large-scale marketing activities and road racing victories to charitable partnerships with the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-active Driving School, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, UNCF (formerly United Negro College Fund), Girls, Inc., and a #GivingTuesday initiative with DonorsChoose.org, 2014 was a historic year for the Kia brand which begins its third decade in the U.S. with tremendous momentum and one of the youngest and best-looking lineups in the business.