September 5, 2012 / 6:53 PM / 8 years ago

Kia says on pace for 4 percent share of U.S. new-car market

Visitors talk on the KIA Motors booth during the second media day of the 82nd Geneva Auto Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 7, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

DETROIT (Reuters) - Kia Motors Corp’s (000270.KS) share of the U.S. new-car market is on pace to finish at 4 percent, a top U.S. executive said on Wednesday.

If the industry maintains its current annual sales rate of 14.3 million vehicles, that would leave Kia, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor (005380.KS), with sales of about 572,000 vehicles this year.

“Our goal is not to lose market share,” Tom Loveless, executive vice president of Kia Motors USA, said at an Automotive Press Association event in Detroit. “I think we’re on pace to capture a 4 (percent) share. We finished last year at 3.8.”

In January, Kia officials predicted 2012 U.S. sales would rise 10 percent to about 534,000 vehicles. Through August, the Korean automaker’s sales are up almost 17 percent to 386,809 vehicles.

Loveless declined to predict where the U.S. auto industry’s sales would finish this year. He believes Kia can maintain sales volumes of its Optima sedan despite increased competition in the mid-sized car segment.

A slide in the presentation showed that Kia expects U.S. sales of its Soul compact SUV will hit about 112,000 this year, up from 102,267 vehicles last year.

Kia will introduce seven new or refreshed models next year, including new versions of the Sorento mid-sized crossover vehicle and Forte compact car, officials said on Wednesday. Kia previously said it would roll out a new Soul in 2013. Loveless declined to say how many of those seven would be new vehicles.

He said Kia was looking at bringing the Quoris full-sized luxury sedan to the U.S. market, but no decision had been made. The car is sold as the K9 in Korea.

Loveless said in a “perfect world,” which he defined as U.S. sales of 16 million vehicles, Kia’s number of dealers might grow as high as 780 to 800 from about 765 now.

Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Leslie Adler

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