Kia is putting increasing emphasis on the interior quality of its new cars as the company looks to move beyond the traditional perception that it is a low-price value brand.
Paul Philpott, Kia Motors UK president and chief executive officer, (pictured) told Fleet News at the Paris Motor Show 2014: “Interior quality is the single biggest improvement for our latest cars like the new Sorento – that’s the big news for Kia.”
He added: “We are taking part exchange vehicles from Renaults and Fiats to Audis and BMWs; we are an attractive option as a second car in a premium car household.”
Kia’s fleet sales are up 5%, but Philpott said that masks a decision to pull volume out of rental and Motability which he called “high cost segments”. Consequently, registrations in the true fleet sector of leasing and end user fleets is up 12% year-on-year, in line with Kia’s retail growth.
“We will take around 500 units out of rental this year and Motability is 20% down – it’s getting very competitive and too costly,” Philpott said.
He expects 2015 new car registrations to be similar to this year as interest rate rises and the General Election put pressure on the UK economy and consumer spending.
As a result, Kia is forecasting “a modest increase” from this year’s 77,500 to around 80,000 units in total. Fleet will continue to account for 45% of sales.
The next phase of Kia’s growth plan will coincide with new products scheduled for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“We are on track for 100,000 by the end of the decade – our growth is on target,” Philpott said.