The move, which surprised industry watchers, gives 41-year-old Philpott his first shot at running a national car company.
Philpott was the AM/Courland Rising Stars winner in 2005.
Kia will not comment on the matter, but the Toyota retail network was told late last year that Philpott had resigned. Kia is expected to issue a press release confirming the appointment at the start of February, with Philpott taking up the post from February 5.
According to one industry expert, Philpott is “an excellent catch” for Kia.
He adds: “The position is one of the better paid manufacturer managing director jobs in the UK because Kia needs to attract people to what could be seen as a less desirable marque.
“The challenge will be meeting the Korean management’s huge ambitions for growth in the UK.”
Philpott replaces Paul Williams, who is now heading Landwind Europe.