Kia Gets Ex-Saturn Stores

The Korean automaker Kia is one of the three car manufacturers which managed to get higher sales figures in the United States compared to last year. This advantage was mainly due to the launch of three new vehicles, the Soul crossover, Forte sedan and Forte Koup, and the addition of 24 stores in the top 20 markets.

According to Tom Loveless, sales vice president of Kia Motors America, most stores have been added on the East Cost and 18 of those are former Saturn stores.

"Fifty percent of the sales in the U.S. come out of the top 20 markets, so we are looking to improve our positioning where we did not have access," Loveless said this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "In the eastern region, our market share went up 80 percent from 2008 to 2009. That shows product and access to key locations made a difference. That will continue to be a priority in 2010."

The Kia official did not say how many stores they will add in 2010, but mentioned that the East Coast presents serious opportunities, as well as the fact that he has interests in cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles.

"Those areas have been hard for Kia to get into,"
he said. "Where it strategically makes sense, the brand will get into those markets. Adding stores could become easier as Saturn dealers wind down."

"There is no defined project to go after Saturn," Loveless said, "but they are in the right markets. We also got a few Hummer and Chrysler stores."
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