The Korean carmaker's strategy will build on the success of the Sedona MPV which was the third best-selling full-size people carrier in the UK in the first half of the year, and has now been given a mid-term facelift.
The Sedona will be backed by a revised Carens range, new Sportage and a new large 4x4. Kia expects to double its UK sales by 2004 after the introduction of an all-new city car - increasing its annual sales from about 12,000 units a year to 22,000.
Managing director Mark Quinn said: 'At the moment we are able to maintain our sales, despite losing 40% of our customer base when the Kia Pride was discontinued.'
Although the manufacturer has never chased fleet sales in the UK, cars like the Sedona - the cheapest large MPV on sale in the UK - are proving a cost-effective whole life proposition with respectable predicted residual values. Low prices will also offset the effects of high carbon dioxide emissions under next year's new company car tax rules.
Quinn said: 'We've always thought that you only do well in the fleet sector if you deserve to be in it and people don't take you seriously unless you have good vehicles. Cars like the Sedona and our new Magentis saloon have been well received.'
Kia currently has 90 dealers in the UK but is hoping to expand its network to 120 to ensure it is more visible and better placed to promote its current seven-model range.
Quinn added that although Kia and its partner, Hyundai, will jointly develop platforms and engines, company chiefs in South Korea have indicated that Hyundai will be the 'conservative' brand, while Kia will adopt a 'younger and sporty' image over the next few years.