The popularity of Kia Motors Corp.'s Picanto mini and Cerato compact has helped drive the Korean brand's explosive sales growth in Europe this year.
Sales for the Hyundai Motor Co. unit shot up 62.2 percent in September over the same month a year ago in Europe.
Kia's sales for the year to date are up 30.6 percent to 112,016. That equals a 1.3 percent market share, up from 0.8 percent through the first nine months of 2003.
Europe overall was down 1.5 percent in September to 1,411,323 units. From January through September, 11,815,890 million cars have been sold, up 1.4 percent from a year ago, according to ACEA, the European manufacturers association in Brussels. The totals include 26 countries.
Kia executives say they will continue their assault on Europe.
"Our newest Kia products, the Picanto and Cerato, are designed and engineered to appeal to European motorists," said Jean Charles Lievens, vice president of Kia Motors Europe.
Kia introduced a redesigned Sportage SUV at the Paris auto show last month and will bring out redesigns of the Rio small car, Carnival minivan and Optima large sedan next year.
Asian manufacturers continue to gain on their European rivals. Hyundai was up 29.4 percent in September compared with last year. Daewoo rose 22.7 percent, Mazda 13.8 percent and Honda 12.1 percent.
Nissan was the biggest loser among the Asian makers last month, down 24.5 percent compared with September 2003.
Among European manufacturers, the BMW Group was the biggest gainer. BMW improved 18.7 percent over the same month a year ago, spurred by the arrival of the new 1 series and the continuing success of the Mini.
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