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May 11, 2011 (LBO) – KIA Motors of South Korea plans to begin selling small cars in Sri Lanka by July 2011 following the introduction of its KIA Optima car in the island, an official said.

KIA Optima cars with 2.0 litre petrol engines will begin arriving by September and will be sold at an introductory price of 4.2 million rupees excluding value added tax and come with a three-year or 100,000 kilometre warranty. KIA Motors Lanka managing director Mahen Thambiah said the firm’s newest small car, the 1,000cc Picanto is to be introduced into the market by early July 2011.

A recent government import tax hike might raise the planned price of the new vehicle by about 10 percent, he said.

But he said the prices of KIA’s existing models sold in the island remained unchanged despite the import tax increase.

The tax hike came after car imports surged following the reduction of import taxes almost a year ago.

The island has been flooded with vehicle imports after the tax cut and the end of its 30-year ethnic war which has led to accelerating economic growth.

Thambiah spoke at the introduction of the KIA Optima Tuesday eight months after the launch of the KIA Sportage i