Carmaker of the year sponsored by Mondial UK
Some car dealers recently described Kia as “a Korean upstart brand”. An upstart indeed. Recently Kia has done plenty to tread on the toes of the established mainstream brands.
It is recruiting their dealers, it’s keen to diversify with the liberties afforded by Block Exemption, and it is poaching their customers by a dynamic combination of a rapidly transforming product range and huge emphasis on value in its marketing.
Kia’s success was clearly evident last year, when it was one of just seven brands to record increased sales. Its 2008 new car registrations totalled 31,324, an increase of 6.65% against 2007. An even clearer indication of the brand’s growing popularity is its market share, which grew from 1.22% to 1.47%.
In the medium term, Kia aims to sell 50,000 units annually in the UK.
While that aim may be checked by the current recession, Kia’s innovative marketing and focus on value means it is better placed than most to pick up money-conscious customers.
Having cut their teeth on volume brands, the Kia directors have earned the respect of the franchised network in the past two years.
They have built bridges with retailers and asked for their input. While they have demanded growth in sales and aftersales, they have not resorted to flooding the market, or signing fleet deals at all cost.
Two elements are at the forefront of Kia’s growth. The first is its product range. A huge step forward was made with the introduction of its Cee’d variants from 2007.
Kia is the only manufacturer to show such confidence in its latest models that it provides a seven-year warranty.
From Cee’d onwards, Kia wants its European market vehicles to better reflect the desires of European buyers, and to have appeal to a more youthful demographic. Its next model, the Soul, certainly shatters the traditional sober styling associated with its older models.
The second element is its retail network. A steady programme of dealer recruitment has taken its network to 153 locations, and Kia expects to fill more open points in the year ahead.
- Audi UK
- BMW UK
- Jaguar UK
- Mini UK
- Suzuki GB
Read full coverage of the AM Awards in the 6 March 09 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.