Specialist fleet dealers are being tasked with playing a key role in helping drive annual sales of Kia cars to 100,000 by the end of the decade.
An extra nine outlets have been added to the fleet network as part of a plan to make the South Korean manufacturer one of the top four suppliers in the UK new car market, Fleet News can reveal.
“The expansion is being backed with an increase in the size of our leasing team and a progressive development of our resources as we increase fleet capacity and capability," said Kia UK president and chief executive officer Paul Philpott.
“We can't achieve our ultimate ambition without being a strong player in the business market. We're absolutely intent on being in that position before 2020 and that means supporting growth in fleet channels. But we do need to control the channel mix and build up our sales to small and medium-size businesses.”
In an interview as the company launched the new Proceed GT model to the media in France, he said the move would lift the fleet proportion of total registrations from 45-50% despite scaling back activities in high discount channels like rental and Motability.
“Our growth is building in all other channels where discounts tend to be lower and one of the major issues we have to settle in the next 18 months is how we can meet higher sales volumes with increased production because we're rapidly approaching full capacity.
“Our investment in fleet is being made because I believe sales follow service. We can have great products, but if they're not readily available to fleets and not backed by the right level of service, the business will go elsewhere.
“I want to make it easier for the leasing companies to market and sell Kia. Their staff are very familiar with Ford, Vauxhall and VW and the more we can add to their understanding of Kia by providing more information and having additional points of contact, the more confidence they will have in our brand.
“It has to be as easy to acquire a Kia as it is to acquire a Ford or Vauxhall and our strategy has to be service led, not discount led. If I had another 20,000 units of spare capacity with the discount needed to sell them into the fleet sector, I could find customers for them. But that kind of business is unsustainable – and it's inevitable that short-term gains achieved via deep discount only hurts residuals and stores up problems for the future.”
Author: Maurice Glover