By 2018, Kia will have renewed every car in its model line and it also plans to launch cars into new segments as it targets 100,000 units in the UK.
Last year, Kia registered 77,500 cars; this year it expects to hit 80,000. Fleet is playing an increasingly important role and now accounts for 45% of overall sales.
But while total fleets sales increased by 4% in 2014, true fleet sales were up by 10%, according to Kia UK president and CEO Paul Philpott (pictured).
Growth was driven by the Sportage in leasing, Ceed with end user fleets and Rio with local authorities and downsizing user-choosers.
Kia also introduced a new top-spec trim on the Rio last year, Rio 4, as a result of feedback from customers.
“It wasn’t in our original plans, but we are following demand from customers for high spec versions,” said Philpott.
He believes the brand is more widely accepted in the corporate sector – “fleets are more prepared to try new brands and when they get behind the wheel they are surprised by the quality and design”.
Kia marginally increased rental last year by 5.5% but reduced Motability by 17%. Levels are forecast to stay the same in 2015, with fleet growth coming from the true corporate sector.
The new Sorento will be launched in April, bringing a halo effect to the range, followed by Picanto and ending with the launch of the new Optima in December.
Ceed will undergo a mid-life facelift and will also add Kia’s new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine to its line-up in the fourth quarter in a new trim called GT Line.
“Our plan is to continue to grow our range of small displacement engines,” said Philpott. He confirmed that the 1.0-litre engine would be introduced to other models which would also come under the GT Line trim grade: “It’s not just a Ceed proposition.”