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Kia has hopes for Venga in 2010

Kia UK managing director Michael Cole hopes the new Venga will push Kia even further forward in 2010 as the company closes in on record UK sales figures this year.

He expects total sales to reach almost 50,000 by the end of this month, well ahead of the previous record of 40,000 sales set four years ago and a figure that will make the UK the carmaker's number one market in Europe.

Cole said: "We are currently running 55% ahead of last year and while the scrappage scheme has helped boost sales, our success has not all been down to that.

"People now see Kia as a serious player. We have a lot of new, quality, reliable and value for vehicles which appeal to a lot of customers.

"When the scrappage scheme first started we saw our small Picanto and Rio models benefitting most but more recently the larger Cee'd models are taking more and more of the share - they now account for around 25% of our sales under the scrappage scheme."

Along with a reduction in VAT, the scrappage scheme has certainly boosted sales this year and senior industry figures say market may reach 2 million cars this year.

"A few months ago that was a figure we were only dreaming about," said Cole. That could change in the New Year with taxes likely to rise again and the scrappage scheme set to finish in February.

Cole said: "I don't expect scrappage to be extended or renewed but we, as an industry, can only urge the government to think long and hard about raising VAT.

"Any increase is never good news and although another 2.5% will not kill the industry, it certainly will not help it. I think the market will hold at around 1.8 million in 2010.

"But I am optimistic. There are signs of recovery in the economy with rising house prices and GDP. Even if you strip out the scrappage scheme, sales in the last quarter of this year have shown an improvement over 12 months ago.

"OK, Q4 in 2008 was very poor, but at least we can show things have bottomed out and are heading in the right direction."

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