Kia Motors Corporation has announced that its global sales figures for 2009 reached an all-time high of 1,651,920 units. This figure represents a year-on-year increase of 20.1%, cementing Kia’s position as one of the world’s fasting growing automakers. This comes after sister company Hyundai breached the three million unit mark for the first time in 2009 (up 11.6%), bringing the combined Hyundai-Kia total to over 4.75 million units sold.

By region, Kia posted year-on-year increases in China (256,732 units, up 69.9%), Korea (412,752 units, up 30.4%), North America (346,181 units, up 11.3%), Western Europe (242,288 units, up 7.7%) and general markets (304,522 units, up 16.2%). Kia’s best selling model in overseas markets was the C-segment Forte with 304,295 units sold.

We have previously commented on brands that provide value for money thriving in uncertain economic times, such as Skoda, Hyundai and Kia. While the Czech brand provides VW tech on the cheap, the Koreans are riding on improved design and quality plus their customary long warranties and lower purchase price.

But where are these increased sales coming from? At the expense of the guys at the top, of course. Toyota has just released its 2009 sales figures which saw a 13% drop to 7.81 million, and Detroit giants GM and Ford have been hurt by poor domestic performance. These companies will also face challenge from a motivated Volkswagen (6.29 million in 2009, up 1.1%), which aims to unseat Toyota by 2018.