Paul Williams, managing director, Kia Motors UK, says: “Momma and poppa dealers who have stuck with us through thick and thin are beginning to see the potential as we grow. We have 136 dealerships and this will increase to 155 by the end of the year – then we will concentrate on raising throughput at all of them.
“The big plcs have not been interested in us until now but our growth has made the leading dealer groups think about selling Kias. We hope to name our new partners before the end of the month.”
Kia Motors is due to begin production in Slovakia in 2006 at a new plant with an annual capacity of 300,000. Williams’ target is 75,000 UK sales by 2008, compared with 12,700 in 2002, 21,000 in 2003 and an expected 33,000 this year.
Last month a car carrier bringing 1,300 Kias, including Picanto, Rio, Carens, Sedona and Sorento, to the UK sank after a collision with an oil tanker in the Far East. Kia says this will not have a large impact on orders, although it will have to bring forward supplies for the September registration.