The Passion to be the global best April 28th, 2010
By Hyoung-Keun (hank) Lee
Kia Motors Corporation
Hello bloggers. It’s great to write you all again (after my last post in September 2009).
Kia Motors has pursued globalization and strived to raise our profile on the world stage for the last decade. Expansion started with our Chinese plant in 2002, then we built a manufacturing facility in Slovakia in 2006 and, in November 2009, began production of our latest plant in Georgia, USA. We effectively completed our global network of localized development, production, sales and after-sales service in the three major markets of China, Europe and the USA in less than ten years.
In addition to building a global network, Kia Motors is working tirelessly to secure our core competitiveness. After adopting quality management measures throughout the company, I am proud to say that our quality levels are now on par with, or better than, other global automakers. Furthermore, world-renowned auto designer Peter Schreyer’s joining us as our Chief Design Officer has brought Kia added competitiveness through fresh design concepts. Customer perceptions towards the Kia brand are changing and our designs are being recognized at the domestic and international level with world famous design awards like the red dot and iF awards.
Thanks to such efforts on multiple fronts, Kia Motors posted its best ever performance in 2009 with operating profits of over KRW1.1 trillion, despite the continuing economic depression. There is no doubt in my mind that the loyalty and support of our customers made this possible. I would like to say that your appreciation of our efforts to change and innovate not only fill me with happiness but also with a greater sense of responsibility to deliver more.
In the coming months, the global market is likely to see many more changes. Just as we were able to find opportunity in crisis and achieve remarkable results, Kia Motors will continue to do its best as a global market leader to guide the future of the company in a creative manner – instead of merely following our peers. We shall achieve this by tapping into our confidence and 66 years of experience.
To this end, we will strengthen our brand image through aggressive marketing initiatives around the world. For the first time in the company’s history, we engaged in advertising during the Super Bowl in the US, one of the country’s most watched televised sports event. Did you happen to see our ad? Kia Motors America produced a TV ad featuring Muno (a popular character from a local children’s TV program) and his friends going on a cross-country ride in one of our all-new Sorentos. The ad was a hit with viewers and ranked seventh among the 69 new Super Bowl ads by the Wall Street Journal.
Kia Motors is well known as the official sponsor of the Australian Open and we will continue to support this event until 2013. This year, we are also proudly sponsoring the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. We plan to increase the stature of our brand through diverse marketing activities such as hosting the Kia Champ into the Arena (an amateur 5-a-side football championship) and the Mascot Friend program which will give children a chance to accompany the official mascot, Zakumi, onto the field prior to matches.
As for boosting our sales capacity, we will conduct training programs for existing dealers to improve their sales abilities, in addition to scouting top dealers to continue our growing sales momentum. Our aim is to strengthen our profile in our five major markets: North America, Europe, China, Korea and emerging markets.
In closing, I wanted to share a recent experience that moved me while I was in Georgia attending the opening ceremony to mark the completion of Kia’s first U.S. plant. There was a signboard set up along a major road in West Point, Georgia, which read, “Thank you Jesus for bringing Kia to our town.” A local resident had put up that sign in appreciation of the positive impact our company has made in the region. On behalf of everyone at Kia, I promise that we will continue to work hard so that one day, all customers, not only the generous residents of West Point, will share in that sentiment.