Kia aims to grow U.S. market share in '10

DETROIT Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:19am EST

DETROIT (Reuters) - Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS) aims to grow its U.S. market share further this year following sharp gains in 2009, driven by new launches including the all-new Sorrento crossover, a U.S. executive said on Tuesday.

Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing for Kia America, said that Sorrento -- which arrived in U.S. showrooms this month -- will be a "game changer" for Kia and the company plans to advertise during the Super Bowl this year for the first time.

"It's a large segment as consumers migrate from SUVs and sedans," Sprague told Reuters at the Detroit auto show. "We're targeting a different type of buyers for us with the vehicle -- young couples and young families," he said.

Kia, a smaller affiliate of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), saw an almost 10 percent growth in U.S. sales last year, benefiting from its position as a value-oriented brand in the face of the U.S. recession. Its market share rose to 2.9 percent, up from 2.1 percent in the prior year.

Sprague said Kia will continue to maintain its value position, but added that last year's launches such as the Soul and Forte small cars have allowed the company to gain consumer recognition for its design capability.

"We're no longer a cheap, cheerful company," he said.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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