AM Online

2014 to set new sales records for Kia in the UK

Kia is targeting another record year for sales in the UK after exceeding all expectations in 2013.

This is despite no significant new product in the most important market sectors, and a continuing shortage of supply of some models.

There will be a replacement for the Soul next month and an electric version of the car at the end of the year, and the cee'd GT - the five-door partner to the company's first performance model, the pro_cee'd GT -  and a refreshed Optima are about to go on sale.

But core models like the Picanto, Rio, cee'd family and Sportage are at least a year away from replacement or update. Both the Picanto and Rio continue to be affected by supply limitations from the factories in Korea.

Yet this was also true in 2013 when Kia sold a record 72,200 cars, up 8.5% on 2012. "We had started off the year with a plan to sell 65,000 and a stretched plan for 70,000, but were we surprised by how well we did - yes we were" said the company's president and CEO in the UK, Paul Philpott, on the eve of the Geneva Show.

"The fleet market was flat while retail was up 19%, but that was deliberate. In 2012 we did 9,000 rentacars, but last year we cut that back to 6,000. We won't be pushed into volume for volume's sake."

This year Philpott expects modest growth in the UK of between 3% and 5%, although early signs are that this could be a conservative target. "At the end of February we were up 4% and the March order bank is very healthy - maybe 15% to 20% ahead," he said. "All the reports coming in from the field managers are very encouraging."

Kia is also revelling in coming joint second with Audi, behind only Land Rover, in the latest National Franchised Dealers Association satisfaction survey. "We have a long-term plan to increase representation from 177 to 195, but already we have more applications to become dealers than we have open points," Philpott said.

The GT has had a strong halo effect on the brand and the UK has sourced increased supply for the important registration-plate change month of March, but demand continues to outstrip supply. "To an extent we will keep it short," Philpott said. "The margins are strong and we are not discounting.

"Looking ahead, there are two things we are focused on. We would love a dedicated sports vehicle like the GT4 Stinger here at Geneva, and a B-segment SUV. And if all my dreams could come true I would really like a GT from the Rio platform."

Philpott confirmed that the electric Soul will "definitely" come to the UK in the fourth quarter of the year, and that he is interested in other alternative-fuel vehicles as and when the pricing and support are right.

"Petrol and diesel will be the core for the medium term, but it's very important to have alternative-fuel vehicles. The EV will be with us in Q4 and we are very excited about it. It won't turn night into day in terms of volume and profit, but we'll see how it progresses. I would like a hybrid for the same reason, and a fuel-cell car one day. It demonstrates how the brand is progressing."

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  • I don't want to be terminated - 04/03/2014 11:05

    Come on AM - can you not report a little bit better than just purely passing on the PR script from a manufacturer. Look at your graphs - 3 years of declining market share. So they might well have grown their sales, but that was because of a huge market. What Kia failed to do was sell in line with the market growth hence the decline in share. I am a Kia Dealer and I can see plenty of Picantos and Rios available to order this in creative writing anyone?