"We've placed a production order, so the cars will be here," said Warner.
Warner, who was the key executive in the launch of Hyundai Motor America in the mid 1980s, has been fielding letters from ad agencies for the last year. The delays in getting started have caused several agencies to not take the Korean company seriously, which Warner said would be a mistake. "Frankly, there are a few agencies I would be interested in because of their work, but they haven't called," said Warner.
Kia's billings are hard to peg because of Warner's slow ramp-up plan, but industry experts said it would have to reach the $30-million level by 1995 for it to be viable.
Kia, which is best known in this country for building the Ford Festiva, will begin selling a four-door sedan this fall. A sport utility vehicle will follow in the spring of 1994, and plans for a third vehicle have already begun.
The company will start selling in selected markets in California, and gradually roll out nationally.
Warner said he has a list of agencies in mind that includes shops on both coasts. "To start, we would not expect an agency without a West Coast office to all of a sudden open a full service shop . . . but certainly if we selected an agency outside California, they would be expected to grow here with us," said Warner.
Kia's vehicles will be priced above $10,000, and are comparable with the Geo cars sold at Chevrolet dealerships.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)