Kia Motors Corp. knows perception can trump reality.
Over the past decade, Kia has improved its vehicles by leaps and bounds, culminating last month in a No. 2 finish on J.D. Power and Associates' closely watched Initial Quality Study. Yet in the U.S., where Kia sold bargain-priced cars such as the Sephia and Spectra for much of its history, customers still hold the brand's quality in low regard.
So the Korean automaker has set a new goal for itself: Reach No. 1 on the J.D. Power survey. By achieving such a milestone, Kia hopes to accelerate an attitude shift that could otherwise take decades, helping it catch Japanese-brand rivals such as Toyota.
"It's a long purchase and consideration cycle for consumers in this industry, so there are still a lot of consumers who aren't paying attention to how far Kia has come," Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications at Kia Motors America, told Automotive News. "But we're confident we will catch up, and quickly."