Korean carmaker Kia aims to increase the production of its Optima model by 60,000 units this year by utilizing most of its expanded capacity in the United States. The company’s decision comes after it sold 84,590 Optimas in 2011 in the US, more than triple its sales in 2010. Last year marked the first full year of production for the redesigned Optima, with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia adding 60,000 units of capacity.
The company’s plant in West Point, Ga., builds the Optima, Sorento, and the Hyundai Santa Fe. “We expect those [Kia] vehicles to account for about 50 percent of our volume here in the U.S. in 2012,” said Tom Loveless, Kia Motors America’s vice president of sales, during the Chicago Auto Show. The Optima and Sorento accounted for 44% of Kia’s sales in the US.
Loveless said the company is having a hard time in keeping up with the demand for the Optima, which might compel Kia to directly import the model from South Korea.
The Optima hybrid, meanwhile, will continue to be imported from South Korea, Loveless added. He had made the forecast that the Optima will be Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the US this year, surpassing the Sorento which has been holding the crown for the past two years.
He remarked that with the increase in Optima production, Kia should have three cars having more than 100,000 U.S. sales this year -- the Optima, Sorento and Soul. In 2011, Kia sold 130,235 Sorentos and 102,267 Souls in the US. The company posted a 36% increase in US sales in 2011 to 485,492 vehicles.
Kia Motors’ new Optima exudes a high-performance but elegant image, thanks to its unique silhouette and its sleek stance, which builds on the carmaker’s principle of creating dynamic, high-quality, and passionate vehicles. The Optima’s striking face features the brand’s bold signature grille flanked with projector headlamps.
The Optima has a coupe-like form, enhanced by its sweeping chrome arc, which flows from its A-pillars to C-pillars. Also visually lowering the Optima further and enhancing its proportions is a distinctive design motif. A high, pronounced shoulder line connects with its roofline and leads to its extended 2795-mm wheelbase and sculpted flanks. The car also has boldly flared wheel arches as well as a steeply sloped rear window, creating a graceful, muscular saloon.
What’s more, the new Optima offers many standard exterior features such as solar glass, dual exhausts, and indicators on its wing mirrors. And, depending on its trim level, heated exterior mirrors, exterior chrome, fog lights, or body-color door handles will also be available, along with alloy wheels with a 17-inch diameter and 215/55 R17 tyres.
Meanwhile, Optima cars with higher trim levels have added HID headlights equipped with auto levelling, uniquely designed front grille, LED rear lights, rear lip spoiler, red brake calipers, aero wiper blades, sculpted side sills, and 18-inch alloy wheels with black machine finish and 225/45 R18 tyres. All of these features help the car achieve a true performance look.
Lastly, the Optima’s interior creates a sense of being a driver's car. Its instrument panel contours toward the driver, suggesting a cockpit feel to it, with precise controls and gauges for an overall athletic performance and experience without compromising spaciousness and comfort. There are also paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel, which expresses that the Optima is designed and developed for those passionate about driving and about cars.
These paddle shifters are standard on Kia Optima’s automatic versions available outside of North America. A high console featuring a short shifter also adds to the car’s cockpit feel, while a glass panoramic sunroof is optional for those who want to enjoy driving with an open air feel.