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Kia raises sales targets for third time in a year

Kia, one the fastest growing car brands in Europe, is vowing not to let sales slip after raising retailers' targets on the back of another month of record growth.

Talking exclusively to AM, managing director Paul Williams says: “Achieving our best-ever month shows how strong our products are, how capable our dealer network is and underlines the fact our new car customers identify with our £1 deposit marketing campaign.”

Sales to the end of September are up 79 per cent year-on-year at 17,188 units with Rio accounting for almost a third. The company is revising upwards its 2003 target for the third time this year. In July, Kia revised projections up from18,000 to 20,000. Now dealers are expected to hit the 21,000 mark – 0.8 per cent of the market. By 2006 it expects to be selling 50,000 new cars.

In contrast, last year, before the Kia factory took over UK distribution from MCL Group, retailers sold just 12,000 vehicles. Driving this growth will be new product led by the Picanto A-sector car in spring next year. This will be followed by the Cerato, which replaces the Shuma as the firm's C-sector car. Later in 2004, Kia will introduce a Sportage replacement.

So far this year the company has taken on 35 dealers and Williams plans to increase the total network to 130 by the end of 2003 and 150 by the end of next year. This week alone he has had 20 enquires.

For September, 62 of the comp-any's dealer network achieved 150 per cent of their sales targets. As a reward, managing director Paul Williams took these retailers away for a long weekend in Cyprus. “We want to put as much into the franchise as we can. We work hard, but we play hard too,” he says.

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