Optima key to raising Kia's profile
27 January 2012
Kia's entry to the upper medium fleet sector is aimed more at raising the brand's profile than increasing sales, with the company hoping for around 2000 of the 60,000 total registrations it is aiming for this year to be its new Optima saloon.
The company increased sales to core end-user fleets by 144% in 2011, driven mainly by the Sportage small SUV, which has, according to the firm's UK sales director Yaser Shabsogh, "found a sweet spot for user choosers looking for something different".
"We don't have huge volume plans for Optima - supply is under demand across the world and we don't want it to become a discount fleet car; we want people to buy it for the same reason they buy a Sportage," said Shabsogh. "A great value and tax proposition and a great-looking car you want to have outside your house."
He said the firm is looking for a growth in core fleet registrations - outright purchase fleets and contract hire - from 6500 to 9500 in 2012, but the Optima doesn't have a huge part to play in that with the Sportage, Ceed and Rio the biggest business car players.
"Optima volume isn't actually a big issue - we want to grow, so whether it is one or 2000 cars it's all incremental volume," said Shabsogh. "We think everyone that drives or sees the car will love it and it pushes the brand.
"There will be adverts for the Optima on TV - we wouldn't do it for 2000 units alone," he continued. "People will love the car and love Kia and it will push the brand even higher. More than volume, that's the importance of Optima."
The company has invested in resources for its network of 17 dealers to help them attract more local fleet business, and is looking to extend that network.
"We would like to be at 25 but they have to be the right 25," he declared. Kia is also working with an external company to provide support for its fleet team, creating a fleet business centre to deal with lead generation and management, follow-up, direct marketing and management of terms.
"We've invested a lot in fleet people, processes, systems, and last year it all came together," said Shabsogh.