Friday, January 20, 2012

Kia expands roster of NBA sponsorships

  Kia Motors America, one of the fastest growing car companies in the US, has added a new team to its National Basketball Association team partnerships by becoming the "Official Vehicle of the Golden State Warriors." Kia also is the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA .
  Beginning with the 2011-2012 basketball season, KMA also has renewed relationships with the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Miami HEAT, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs, while the Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers remain on Kia Motors' roster in 2011-2012 as part of multi-year agreements.
 Michael Sprague, Kia vice president of marketing and public relations.   ^Between November of 2008 and November of 2011, Kia sales grew 78 percent as it rolled out the Kia Soul, Kia Optima and Kia Sorento.
  The association with the NBA has definitely helped build Kia’s credibility with consumers.  “People will say , ‘Well if the NBA endorse it, it must be a pretty good product,’” Sprague said.
 After setting a blistering pace over the past three year, Kia expects sales to climb well past a half milion units in 2012 even though it will not be launching any new products this year for the first time in recent years.
 Kia sales increased 36 percent last year to  485,000 units in the US as its rebuilt product line and its clever and aggressive advertising  featuring dancing hamsters and stars from the National Basketball Association helped bring new customers into show rooms in the US.  Overall, sales of new light-duty vehicles increased 8 percent  so Kia gained market  share.
 “Your have to remember we were capacity constrained last year,” he said.
 Kia is finishing up spending $100,000 million to expand the company^s new assembly plant in West Point, Ga.  While the production from West Point is shared with Hyundai, the plant can now build more than 360,000 vehicles annually providing Kia with more mid-sized Kia Optima to sell in the US, said Sprague, who declined to give a specific forecast. ^However, at 485,000 units last year, I think we can go well past 500,000 units,” he said.
 “We also ran out of the Rio about mid-year," he said. With new version of the subcompact Rio now rolling off assembly line in South Korea, the availability in the US of the new model will grow starting in March.  By Joseph Szczesny


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