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Kia to more than double dealerships in Mexico

Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's No. 2 automaker, said Sunday that it is moving to more than double its dealership network in Mexico to increase its market presence.

The move to add 27 new dealerships to the existing 21 is likely based on the carmaker's strong sales in its first three months of selling cars there.

Kia's first official foray into Mexico came in July, when it set up dealerships in 10 major cities. That month it sold 1,499 vehicles, outselling BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Suzuki, to take 11th place in sales. The sales number then rose to 1,620 in August and 1,711 in September.

In the three-month period, Kia's ranking did not move up, but the automaker said the gap with the 10th-ranked Renault stands at around 300 units, making it likely that Kia can make the top 10 list within the year, with 48 dealerships nationwide.

The carmaker, part of the Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest automotive conglomerate, currently sells its Forte compact sedans, and its Sportage and Sorento SUVs in Mexico. It said that starting next year it will ship its very popular Optima midsize sedan to the market.

Kia also said that it will steadily increase the dealership network to 65 by 2017, which will give it greater reach in the sizable market.

Reflecting this goal, the carmaker invited 28 Mexican dealers to South Korea last month for a five-day tour of Kia's production facilities and sales infrastructure, as well as showing off its vast research and development capabilities.

The dealers were also made privy to Kia's vision for the future.

Kia then said that once its production line in the Nuevo Leon Province goes on line in May 2016, which will be able to churn out 300,000 cars per year, it will be able to sell more cars in both the North and South American markets. The new plant will start making compact cars like the Forte.

Cars made in Mexico can be sold throughout the Americas without paying duties because the North American country has open trade packs with its neighbors. (Yonhap)