Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, who also heads Kia Motors, vowed Friday to expand investment in eco-friendly vehicles as part of his efforts to boost technology amid the global competition to make zero-emission cars.
"I plan to further expand investment to obtain future growth engines," Chung said in an annual general meeting of shareholders of Kia Motors Corp. at the company's headquarters in southern Seoul.
"I will make utmost efforts to secure technological competitiveness by increasing investment in research and development of eco-friendly cars and electronic control systems."
As chairman of Kia Motors, Chung is in charge of South Korea's second-largest carmaker, which is a smaller sister company of the country's largest automaker Hyundai Motor Co. Hyundai Motor forms the world's fifth-largest automaker together with Kia Motors.
Still, Chung did not elaborate on how much he will expand spending on research and development of eco-friendly cars and electronic control systems.
In 2010, Kia said it would churn out 2,000 units of the Ray, an electric-powered vehicle, for use by government agencies and public corporations, by 2012.
Chung's comments came weeks after Hyundai began assembly-line production of ix35 hydrogen fuel cell sport utility vehicles. Hyundai Motor has claimed it is at least two years ahead of its competitors, including Daimler-Benz and General Motors, in indigenous technology and know-how for making hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
Hyundai Motor has said it plans to build 1,000 units of the zero-emission vehicles by 2015 for lease to public and private fleets, primarily in Europe.
A fuel-cell car emits only water vapor as it converts the stored hydrogen into electricity, which turns the vehicle's motor, a technological advance that could eventually reduce the heavy reliance on internal combustion engines that produce greenhouse gases largely responsible for global warming.
Chung also said he will step up efforts to raise Kia's brand value in domestic and foreign markets.
Last year, Kia ranked 87th with a brand value of US$4.09 billion in the Best Global Brands, which was released by the international branding consultancy firm Interbrand Corp. It was the first time for the carmaker to move into the top 100 in brand value.
Hyundai ranked 53rd with a brand value of US$7.5 billion and finished ahead of other global carmaking brands, including Audi, Porsche and Nissan.
Kia set a sales target of 2.75 million cars this year, compared with 2.72 million units sold in 2012.