Kia will likely celebrate Thanksgiving by setting a new sales record

Ryan Beene is a Los Angeles-based reporter for Automotive News.
Kia will have plenty to be thankful for come Turkey Day.

The company easily should break its full-year sales record by Thanksgiving after posting a 39 percent increase in October. With October sales in the books at 31,199 vehicles, Kia brought its 2010 sales total to 299,223. That's only 6,250 units shy of Kia's full-year U.S. sales record of 305,473 set in 2007.

Kia has set monthly sales records in seven of the first 10 months of the year, so a full-year record wouldn't be a surprise. What is surprising is that it won't even take the whole year for Kia to break its old record. In fact, the brand is poised to shatter it.

If Kia keeps up its 2010 monthly sales average of roughly 30,000 vehicles, it will sell around 360,000 by year's end.

The brand has built its gains on the back of just five models: the Soul, Forte, Forte Koup, Sorento and Sportage. Sales of those nameplates account for about 75 percent of the brand's sales year to date. Sales of Kia's eight remaining models -- the Rio, Spectra, Forte, Amanti, Optima, Sedona, Rondo and Borrego -- made up only about 25 percent.

Next year looks even brighter. Industry sales are expected to improve at a greater rate than we're seeing now.

Add to that the fact that Kia will have dealers stocked with a new Forte five-door variant and the redesigned mid-sized 2011 Optima by the new year -- plus turbo and hybrid variants of the Optima early in 2011 -- and Kia doesn't look as if it'll be slowing down any time soon.

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