Fleet News

Fleet News Award Winner – Kia Sportage

In the space of just five years, Kia’s UK market share in fleet doubled from 0.85% to 1.71%.

Impressive? Wait until you see what the company has mapped out for the next five years – a threefold rise in fleet sales, taking it to a 5% share of the market.

Product will drive the increase, supplemented by a reinforced fleet department headed by former Citroën national fleet sales manager and Motability manufacturer account manager John Hargreaves.

Hargreaves has a 21-year track record in fleet: if he says something will happen, it’s worth paying attention.

“Kia is a well-run business with a clear plan; it knows where it is going and needs to get a commercial result every month, but it won’t force the market in order to get there,” he tells Fleet News.

In many ways, Kia’s UK performance is the least eye-opening. Globally, company sales rose 26% from 2009 to 2010.

Over the past six years, sales volumes have doubled.

This year, the company welcomes new models in the city car (Picanto), small car (Rio) and family car (Optima) sectors.

These sectors represent half of European sales. Its bullish attitude appears to be well-founded.

Majoring on design, thanks to ex-Audi design boss Peter Schreyer, who has created the “bulldog” family face, together with modern powertrains, a value-for-money proposition and the market-leading seven-year, transferable warranty, Kia’s first ever Fleet News Awards win was more a question of when, not if.

The answer: 2011 with the Sportage – best crossover vehicle.

Fleet News: Kia puts great emphasis on design – how important is it to your success in the fleet sector?

John Hargreaves: Our biggest challenge is not getting onto fleet choice lists; it’s getting drivers to choose the cars once they are on the list.

That means making cars that have a clear identity and that people want to drive because they appeal to them as well as being a cost-effective means of transport.

Design is key to us moving from being a rational purchase to being a rational purchase with brand appeal as well.

The Sportage puts us in a position of success in the user-chooser area rather than being restricted to autocratic, financially-led decisions by the fleet, and at the end of the year we have the D-segment Optima which will look to build on that user-chooser success.

Certainly, the Sportage order bank suggests we are winning the battle.

FN: What else differentiates Kia in a highly competitive marketplace?

JH: We are still extremely strong with P11D pricing and residual values while CO2-wise we are well placed, especially with the new Rio and its 85g/km offering .

It means we are very strong on wholelife costs for fleets that are looking at their financial position.

But we are also getting a favourable driver response to our demonstrator cars, especially with fleets that are running more traditional fleet cars.

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