Dusan Dvorak, a spokesman for Kia Motors Corp.'s unit it Slovakia, said the South Korean carmaker plans to assemble about 240,000 vehicles in 2011 in Zilina, Slovakia, up from 228,000 targeted for 2010.
He adds the Zilina factory will also increase production of engines by 50 percent to 450,000 units. Kia expects to increase output at Zilina by 5.3 percent in 2011, led by rising demand for sport-utility vehicles.
Dvorak recently said the year 2010 has been a success due to new SUV models. Kia's sales in Europe rose 3.8 percent in January to November from a year earlier, while its affiliate, Hyundai Motors Co., sold 3.9 percent more cars in the same period, according to industry group ACEA.
Dvorak says SUVs have represented more than half of Slovak output in 2010, up from about 20 percent in 2009 when 150,000 cars were assembled.
The carmaker in 2010 in Zilina began producing a new generation of its Sportage SUVs and started assembly of Hyundai-brand ix35 SUVs. It also makes Cee'd compact cars in the EUR1 billion factory ($1.3 billion) that became operational in 2006.
Kia and Hyundai seek to tap rising demand for small SUVs to gain market share in Europe as the economy struggles to recover from economic crisis. [via autonews - sub. required]