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Kia Motors downshifts on sales expectations

Mar 25,2020
Facing production and sales trouble from the coronavirus outbreak, Kia Motors is considering revising its sales target for the year and adjusting its operations.

The automaker will prepare various contingency plans to stabilize management amid the coronavirus outbreak, Kia Motors CEO Park Han-woo said Tuesday at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

“The global automobile market in 2020 was initially expected to grow from the recovery of new markets like China, India and Southeast Asian nations despite sluggish demand from major markets like the United States and Europe,” Park said. “But with Covid-19 taking over the world, the initial forecast is expected to be revised.”

Like many of its competitors, the company experienced sluggish sales last year from steadily falling demand for new cars. But helped by its SUV models in North America and India, Kia Motors fared better than many other in the industry.

Kia sold 2.77 million vehicles worldwide in 2019, down 1.4 percent from a year earlier. And the company was looking to introduce more cars in the North American market and expand its eco-friendly vehicle line-up in Europe to achieve 2.96 million units in sales this year.

But as the virus outbreak started expanding throughout the globe, Kia Motors closed its factories in Korea for several days last month and is on the verge of closing some of its foreign ones. Its already serious production delays and sales slump are only expected to continue as the pandemic worsens.

Park said Kia Motors will focus on developing electric vehicles and plans to have eco-friendly models account for 25 percent of its sales in 2025. Kia will develop electric vehicle-based mobility services on top of new recreational vehicles like the Sorento and Carnival.

During the shareholder meeting, Kia Motors shareholders voted to reappoint Chief Financial Officer Joo Woo-jeong to the board. They also voted to appoint former National Tax Service head Kim Duk-joong and Korea University business administration professor Kim Dong-won as outside directors.

Shareholders voted to pay out dividends of 1,150 won per share.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]