Korean automaker KIA today announced that its assembly plant in Pesqueria, Nuevo Leon, will increase production by 40% this year, as it plans to enter new markets in Central and South America, the Middle East and Africa, in order to reduce the risk of the possible exit of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Last year, KIA assembled at its Mexican facility 223,000 units of the Forte, Rio and Accent models, the latter from Hyundai. The company is aggressively reducing its dependence of the North American market.
Horacio Chavez, CEO of the brand in Mexico, revealed during a press conference that this year the company will continue with this strategy, which will expand from 10 to 24 the list of countries to which KIA exports the Forte, and from 49 to 55 the destinations where the Rio is shipped.
Among the new markets for the Forte will be Chile, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, while the Rio model will also reach Sudan, Tunisia, Liberia, Somalia, Laos and Belize.
Approximately 50% of the additional 91,000 units that the brand will produce at the Pesqueria plant will be of the Forte model, 35% of Rio and 15% of Accent, according to the official.
Honda is next
KIA will also seek to sell over 100,000 units this year in Mexico, to be ranked as the sixth best-selling brand in the country, a position currently held by Honda.
In 2017, KIA sold 86,713 cars, surpassing Ford and positioning itself as the seventh most successful brand after only two years of presence in the Mexican market.
To achieve this 15% increase in sales, the company will launch a new model in the second half of the year. "With the arrival of the Sedona, we will seek to enter a segment of the minivans where there are few competitors and where we see an opportunity for growth," said Chavez.