B.M. Ahn, CEO of Kia Motors America, has seen Kia double its sales volume in the past three years. Now he's working to bring Kia's quality up to the level of the Japanese imports.
Ahn spoke with Staff Reporter Joe Kohn at the introduction of the Kia Sedona minivan in Sedona, Ariz.
Will Kia become parent Hyundai Motor Corp.'s entry-level brand in the United States, while Hyundai Motor America serves as the premium brand?
No. We will be adjusting a proper amount and platform sharing more often. We will be different. Our styling is different. We will be younger-looking, have bigger tires and wheels. But we will still be affordable.
Hyundai has said it regularly reviews its 100,000-mile warranty to ensure it doesn't put the company in the red. What's Kia's view?
I think the warranty will be around for a while. We need to have a certain momentum in the future, and the major reason to buy a Kia is the warranty.
Kia and Hyundai plan to build a joint design center in California. Do your products need to look more American?
We need to make our cars look good for all our markets. If we want to sell cars in the U.S.A., we think we should design cars in the U.S.A.
Is the design center a step toward a U.S. assembly plant?
No. There is no relation.