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Kia Motors Announces Recall to Replace Speedometer Sensors

July 21, 1994|JOHN O'DELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Less than six months after beginning sales in the United States, Kia Motors America has announced a voluntary recall of nearly 7,000 cars to replace sensors that control speedometers and cruise controls.

Only about half the 6,945 cars subject to the recall have actually been sold to private buyers, the company indicated. The others are still on dealers' lots or waiting to be shipped to dealers.

Industry analysts say the recall is not likely to hurt Irvine-based Kia, which advertises its vehicles as well-built cars for everyone. About 13,000 cars, which are built in South Korea and known as the Sephia, have been imported into the United States so far. The starting price is roughly $9,000.

"Recalls don't have the negative connotations they used to have" when most repairs were forced on reluctant auto makers by federal regulators, said Christopher Cedargren, an analyst with AutoPacific Group in Santa Ana. "Most recalls these days are voluntary, and they tell people that the car companies care about quality."

Kia Motors America, which imports and distributes the cars through 67 dealerships in the United States, said the cars subject to its recall were equipped with an electronic speed sensor that has developed an "unacceptable" malfunction rate. The problems have been identified over time in the Sephias that have been used by rental fleets since last fall.

Kia began a "rolling" retail introduction of its cars in Washington in February. The first dealerships in Southern California opened in May.

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