Kia Motors launched its luxury Credenza on Tuesday with help from an opera singer and a heartthrob of the South Korean cinema, according to Associated Press.
The company hopes the new sedan will raise the company's game to a higher level and attract customers even as the outlook for the global economy remains cloudy.
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Kia, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor Co., officially ushered in the sleek four-door at a splashy evening unveiling at a swank hilltop hotel with an appearance by Lee Byung-hun, one of the country's top film stars who recently made his Hollywood debut in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."
In order to drive home the lofty heights it aspires to tread, Kia also treated attendees to a performance by an opera singer. After all, as Kia noted, the vehicle's name comes from an Italian musical term for an elaborate flourish in a piece of music, such as an aria.
The company, until now known mostly for economical smaller cars such as the Forte, appeared to take a page out of the playbook of Hyundai, which launched its luxury Genesis sedan with operatic fanfare last year.
Kia President Lee Hyoung-keun placed high hopes on the new vehicle, saying in a statement that it will "revitalize Kia's fortunes" and "guarantee a much broader consumer appeal" for the company.
The two companies, which together form the world's fifth-biggest automotive group, have expanded aggressively in recent years by opening more overseas plants and winning kudos for quality and design.
Kia last week officially opened its first factory in the United States, located in West Point, Georgia, with a Sorento SUV rolling off the production line. The $1 billion facility, capable of producing 300,000 vehicles a year, is not far from Hyundai's U.S. plant in Montgomery, Alabama.
Peter Schreyer, Kia's Frankfurt-based chief design officer, said the Cadenza is a meaningful step for the company and will help it stand shoulder to shoulder in design with some of the industry's biggest players, such as BMW and Audi.
Kia said it will start manufacturing the Cadenza -- called the K7 in South Korea -- this month for sale in the domestic market. Overseas sales in most markets excluding North America and Europe will begin in March and sales in China are set to start in June, Kia said in a release.
The company said the Cadenza is expected to go on sale in the United States in 2011.
Kia said it expects to sell 40,000 of the vehicles worldwide next year with the figure rising to 65,000 in 2011. Kia is offering the car in South Korea at prices ranging from 28.4 million won ($24,500) to 41.3 million won.
Kia Motors Corp. recorded an all-time high quarterly net profit of 402 billion won in the third quarter, turning around from a loss during the same period last year.
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