Cumulative exports by South Korea's second-largest automaker Kia Motors Corp. surpassed 10 million units on Thursday, a feat achieved 36 years after it started overseas shipments in 1975, the company said.
It took 30 years for Kia Motors to reach the 5 million unit export mark, but only six years since 2005 to reach 10 million.
The number only includes vehicles shipped from South Korea.
Overseas sales of Kia Motors reached 1,647,019 vehicles, including those produced at overseas plants, in 2010 alone.
"With its surpassing of the 10 million unit export mark, Kia Motors will continue to work to become a company that contributes greatly to the nation and community," Lee Hyung-keun, a vice chairman of Kia Motors, was quoted as saying in a ceremony marking the loading of the 10 millionth unit at a port in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers southwest of Seoul.
Kia Motors' exports began with a shipment of 10 pickup trucks to Qatar. The number of overseas destinations for Kia Motors vehicles has since expanded to 156 countries, according to the company.
Out of 10 million units shipped overseas, nearly half, or a little over 4.27 million units, were sold in North America with some 2.45 million units sold in the European market.
The popularity of its vehicles in Asia is also fast growing with its vehicles becoming one of the 10 best-selling brands last month for the first time in its history in China, the world's largest automobile market.
The company's profitability also greatly improved over the years as the average price of each car shipped overseas rose from about US$1,400 in 1975 to nearly $12,000 last year. Revenues from exports also rose from $100 million in 1987 to $5 billion in 2003 and $11.2 billion in 2010, which accounted for 2.4 percent of South Korea's entire exports last year.
Global sales of Kia Motors increased by an average 12 percent since 2004, far ahead of the global industry average of 1.9 percent.
"Kia Motors will continue to strengthen its position as a global company by further improving its brand image and competitiveness with new and eco-friendly technologies," the company said.