DETROIT – Kia Motors America says the replacement for its Amanti large sedan will not debut until 2012 in the U.S., one year later than the timing set by Korean parent Kia Motors Corp.

KMA, which has just started selling the next-generation Optima midsize sedan, wants to leave enough time to establish itself in that segment before it begins retailing a bigger, more-expensive model.

"Let's focus on (the) Optima,” which was in an 1.8 million-unit segment in 2010 “and growing in 2011," Michael Sprague, vice president-marketing for KMA tells Ward's on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show here.

The Amanti replacement goes by two names globally: the K7 in Korea and Cadenza in some export markets. Sprague says KMA is undecided on which name the car, bigger and more luxurious than the now-defunct Amanti, will wear in the U.S.

Kia today at the show will reveal a van concept, the KV7, which Sprague says is one of three possible directions the next-generation Kia Sedona minivan could go. The KV7 is the only option Sprague is familiar with, because it was designed at Kia's studios in Irvine, CA.

Tom Loveless, KMA vice president-sales, says there likely is more upside for Kia in 2011.

The auto maker hit a record 356,268 sales in the U.S. last year, marking an 18.7% jump from 2009 sales. Additionally, the Sorento cross/utility vehicle was the first Kia marque here to hit 100,000 sales, which Loveless says has greatly helped transform Kia's image in the U.S., attracting a more well-heeled customer.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com