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Ayala to reintroduce Kia to Philippine market

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THE 2019 Kia Soul GT is introduced during a Kia press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 28. — REUTERS

AC Industrial Technology Holdings, Inc. (AC Industrials) has sealed the deal to distribute Kia vehicles in the Philippines, expanding the number of auto brands under its portfolio.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Wednesday, parent Ayala Corp. said AC Industrials has signed a distribution agreement with Kia Motors Corp. (KMC) for the Philippines.

AC Industrials will establish a joint venture with Kia’s previous distributor, Columbian Autocar Corp. (CAC), with the former as majority shareholder. This will allow them to revamp the Kia brand in time for a targeted relaunch by January 2019.

“We are very excited to partner with Kia Motors in re-introducing the Kia brand to the Philippine market. With Kia’s dominant position globally, this partnership will undoubtedly boost AC Industrials’ automotive portfolio and enhance its position in the domestic automotive space,” AC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said in a statement.

Meanwhile, AC Industrials President and CEO Arthur R. Tan said will be able to offer “competitive, technologically advanced vehicles in many key market segments.”

“As domestic automotive tastes rapidly evolve alongside the sector itself, AC Industrials, in partnership with Kia, is well-positioned to capitalize on this disruption and evolution and advance its strategic objective of becoming a leading player in the Philippine vehicle industry,” Mr. Tan was quoted as saying in a statement.

Founded in 1944 in Seoul, KMC has since grown to be a global automobile manufacturer selling vehicles in South Korea, North America, Europe, and other international markets. It became an affiliate of the Hyundai Motor Group in 1998.

KMC sold 2.76 million vehicles in 2017 across 185 countries. With this, the Hyundai-Kia group was ranked as the third largest automotive manufacturer in the world with 7.25 million vehicles sold.

The Kia group said its partnership with AC Industrials will allow them to accelerate their brand’s growth in the country.

“Together we will offer a refreshed, competitive model lineup and an outstanding sales and service experience. We also look forward to gradually bringing to the Filipino market many of the disruptive technologies now reshaping the future of the automotive industry,” according to a statement quoting Kia Motors Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Ho-Sung Song and Kia Motors Asia Regional HQ President Steve Lee.

AC Industrials will now have six brands under its vehicle distribution and dealership unit, AC Automotive.

AC Automotive currently distributes the Honda, Isuzu, Volkswagen, and KTM brands, under which it oversees a network of 27 company-owned and 30 third party-owned dealerships nationwide.

It partnered with Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corp. to distribute Maxus commercial vehicles in the Philippines starting next year. — Arra B. Francia