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Kia dealers ‘not to register cars until January’

Kia dealers have been ordered by UK bosses to manipulate registration figures for the majority of the brand’s products this month to save the importer from exceeding European carbon dioxide targets.

AM has seen a copy of a letter sent to the network from Kia Motors (UK) managing director Paul Williams, instructing dealers to hold back registration of any Carens, Sorento, Sedona and Magentis units sold in December until January 4, as the CO2 levels emitted by these models “adversely affect” the importer’s results. In return, retailers will receive a £300 bonus for each December sale registered on that date.

The network is also warned that any registrations of Sportage demonstrators prior to January 1, 2005 will forfeit the 8% consignment margin and will not receive any support payment.

All vehicle manufacturers and importers have strict targets from the European Commission to cut average exhaust emissions to 140g/km by 2008 and to 120g/km by 2012. Much of Kia’s current range emits more than 200g/km.

Williams was unavailable for comment, but Steve Kitson, Kia Motors (UK) director of communications, rejects any suggestion that the importer is controlling its retailers’ businesses.

If dealers do not co-operate, says Kitson, EC fines against Kia could force it to increase prices, making it more difficult for dealers to sell cars from a marque that is promoted in the media as a value for money proposition. “There would be much greater damage to dealers if we don’t do what we have to do to meet these targets,” he adds.

Kia insists it is not telling dealers they can’t sell new cars, simply that it is incentivising them to ‘persuade’ customers to take delivery in January.

Kitson says the arrival of the lower-emitting Picanto and Cerato models came later in the UK than expected, and as a result has not balanced sales of Kia’s higher emitting products as much as planned. He is confident that these models will help Kia to achieve its CO2 targets next year.

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