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Kia investment in R&D underpins commitment to environmental responsibility


Increases in R&D spend accelerate improvements in production efficiency and the rollout of vehicles with reduced emissions
- Kia manufacturing is now 44% more eco-efficient
- EcoDynamics technology has improved Kia vehicle efficiency by up to 41%
- Kia invested US$20.2 million in charity programs for 27,500 individuals in 2011

Kia Motors Corporation is investing heavily in research and development to further reduce its environmental impact, notably by improving manufacturing processes and increasing innovation in vehicle technologies. According to the corporation’s new sustainability report, Kia invested US$2.25 billion* – 6% of its total sales revenue – in research and development and in its production facilities in 2011. The investment meant that Kia is 44% more eco-efficient than in 2004, when it began measuring its environmental impact. Building on this momentum, in 2012 Kia will invest a further US$2.52 billion*, a substantial year-on-year increase of 12%, to ensure its production processes become even more eco-efficient and to accelerate the development of highly-efficient vehicles with low emissions. At a Group level, over 9,800 employees – including 30% of all staff recruited since 2010 – are now engaged in research and development.

Kia’s environmentally friendly manufacturing initiatives – including the Green Design System to increase the use of recycled materials, and the Chemical Management System, which minimises the use of hazardous chemicals and substances – were responsible for reducing CO2 emissions per vehicle produced in 2011 by 16 kg, compared to 2010. Atmospheric pollutants were also reduced by 9% per vehicle manufactured during 2011. The volume of steel recycled by Kia globally in 2011 rose by 33% compared to 2010, thanks to more effective waste management solutions. This improvement also allowed Kia’s Sohari and Hwaseong plants in Korea to produce no landfill waste whatsoever last year, helping to reduce Kia’s global production of waste materials by 28% compared to the 2003 level.

Embracing EcoDynamics

Kia has employed its EcoDynamics engineering philosophy to create a range of vehicles that are not just visually and dynamically exciting but are also more environmentally conscious. For example, the fourth-generation Kia Rio 1.1 diesel introduced in 2011 is 41% more efficient than the equivalently powered 1.5-diesel variant of its 2005 predecessor. Similarly, the new Kia Picanto emits 5.4% less CO2 than the previous model, and the 2013 Kia Optima will deliver 7.7% greater fuel economy and emit 7.2% less CO2 than the current model. This is the result of newly developed powertrain technologies, including Continually Variable Valve Lift (CVVL), which regulates the amount of air injected into the combustion chamber to increase efficiency, and ISG that automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle is stationary. Kia has also developed (currently for its domestic market only) its first eight-speed multi-step transmission, which improves fuel economy by up to 18%.

Wider social responsibility

During 2011, Kia once again invested heavily in charity work around the world and invested US$20.2 million* through 158 different programmes, benefitting 27,459 individuals. Meanwhile, Kia’s European sales subsidiaries have been supporting the ‘Planting for a Better Life’ Mali project, which has already planted 3.5 million trees since 2007. Kia promises to plant up to six million additional jatropha shrubs over the next three years, helping to secure a brighter future for communities in the area by boosting agricultural output and generating income for farmers and their families. “The progress that Kia has made in the past 12 months is phenomenal, both technologically and socially,” says Hyoung-Keun Lee, Vice Chairman & CEO, Kia Motors Corporation. “It is testament to the quality of the work that all Kia employees achieve every day and proves that we are steadily moving closer to our goal of Vision 2016.”

Kia Vision 2016 was established in 2012 to meet the mid- to long-term business goals of the corporation, by building a distinct Kia identity and realising value innovation. The three main objectives of this vision are to provide excellent customer value, reinforce global business structure through new market creation, and become a cutting-edge industry leader through innovation. “Drawing on an innovative and creative organisational culture, Kia will continue to raise individual and enterprise-level knowledge and skills to enhance our sustainability. We also pledge to fulfil our role and responsibilities as a global corporate citizen,” adds Mr. Lee.

*Indicates investments or expenditures made by Kia Motors Corp. South Korea-based headquarters and does not include investments or expenditures made by its overseas subsidiaries and distributors.