Mike Stevens | Sep 30, 2011

The appeal of Kia's latest offerings has put the Korean carmaker in an unfamiliar situation: suddenly, it's selling cars quicker than it can build them.

A good problem to have? Lee Sam-ung, Kia's co-CEO for the brand's domestic operations clearly thinks so, telling press at a Rio launch event in South Korea this week that improved quality is the carmaker's number one focus.

"Quantitative growth is important, but qualitative growth is also important. We plan to focus on improving product quality and our brand," he said at a launch event for Kia's revamped Rio subcompact.

"Global auto demand is expected to deteriorate, but we will launch new models, strengthen local promotions and enhance brand competitiveness to cope," Lee said on Wednesday.

Lee added that the company has no plans to build new plants in the immediate future, at home or overseas.

He said that the company will "try its utmost" to achieve its target of 2.5 million sales for 2011, despite an uncertain economic outlook globally.

Supply has long been an issue for the brand's Australian arm, with growing buyer interest in the Sportage and Optima leading to sometimes lengthy delays for some variants - although there has been improvement in recent months.

“We are making progress and KMC (Kia Motors Company) are very open and supportive of our customers’ needs,” KMAu Chief Operating Officer Tony Barlow told TMR today.

“We are constantly working on improvement plans and I fully believe in 2012 we will have freer supply.”

Limited supply may remain a concern for now, but the popularity of the brand's latest offerings in Australia is clear. Year-to-date, Kia Australia has sold 2005 Sportage SUVs - up from 1538 for the same period last year.

For August, 104 Optima sedans found new homes, and 505 for the year so far. A strong figure, considering the car has the longest waits in the Kia line-up, and only one top-shelf specification is available (for now).

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