SEOUL -- Kia will begin volume production of its Spectra sedan in Russia starting in August.
The Korean automaker says it plans to build 148,000 units of the lower-medium model between 2005 and 2009 with its Russian partner, the SOK Group.
The Spectra will be built from complete knockdown kits shipped from Korea to a plant in Izhevsk operated by Izh-Avto, a SOK Group subsidiary. Izhevsk is about 1,300 kilometers southeast of Moscow.
Kim Yong Hwan, Kia senior executive vice president, said the carmaker will aggressively try to attain "a leading share of the Russian automobile market."
Kia parent Hyundai is the country's second-best selling non-Russian brand after Chevrolet.
Kia's sales doubled
About half of the 50,686 cars Hyundai sold in Russia last year were built from CKD kits by joint-venture partner TagAZ at its Taganrog plant in the Rostov region, near the Ukrainian border.
Kia's Russian sales nearly doubled last year to 17,232 units from 9,091 units in 2003.
Kia declined to release a goal for 2005 sales in Russia, but "obviously we're looking for growth," said Michael Choo, international communications manager.
Izh-Avto builds Lada sedans and station wagons. Its plant has an annual capacity of 180,000 units.
Kia is helping Izh-Avto install a new paint shop that will have an annual capacity of 220,000 units.
The automaker will train more than 50 Russian technicians in Korea. It also is providing the equipment for the plant's body shop.
Currently, Kia builds about 7,000 Sportage medium SUVs a year from CKD kits at a joint-venture plant with Avtotor in Kaliningrad.
Last month, Kia moved its eastern European headquarters to Moscow from Warsaw.