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Kia targets 100,000 fleet sales

Date: 04 November 2015   |   Author:

Kia has made a name for itself with retail buyers thanks to its strong value family cars, but it's looking to fleet to help hit sales targets of 80,000 units for 2015 and 100,000 for 2020 - with a 50:50 fleet/retail split.

Talking at an exclusive fleet event on 28 October, Kia UK CEO Paul Philpott was keen to stress that the company won't flood the market with heavily discounted models but will boost sales in 2016 with models including the new Optima upper medium saloon due in January - which it hopes will appeal to fleet managers and user-choosers alike - and an overhauled Sportage off-roader, a new version of the brand's most popular model, which has chalked up impressive sales despite its impending replacement.

Several other models are also set for replacement by 2018 with a new Picanto city car and Rio supermini due around 2017.

Besides replacing existing models, Kia hopes to gain greater market coverage with brand new models, including an Optima estate and a dedicated hybrid model that should provide strong economy and bypass emissions concerns currently plaguing diesel models.

Likely to have more fleet impact, however, is a plug-in Optima, due at the end of 2016. Philpott claims that this vehicle should sneak below the 50g/km CO2 emissions mark, putting it into the lowest 7% BIK rate for 2016-2017. Figures aren't yet confirmed, but such emissions equate to around 130mpg upwards, meaning that fleets with users covering 60,000 miles could save £2351 in fuel per vehicle compared with 65mpg diesel alternatives.

Philpott also stated that Kia will be launching a hydrogen fuel-cell model by 2020, which is likely to share much technology with the ix35 Fuel Cell made by sister company Hyundai. Despite focusing on developing economical petrol, diesel, hybrid and hydrogen models,

Kia claimed that feedback from 150 fleet managers quizzed in August suggests that appearance is now the most important factor in choosing which cars to opt for, cited by 43% of managers, with environmental credentials cited by 42%. Meanwhile, fleet managers expected 42% of their fleet to consist of green vehicles in five years' time, up from 5% now.

Kia is also adding new specialist fleet dealers to its network with a target of 23 for 2015 and 30 for 2016 in an attempt to boost fleet sales, with dedicated fleet staff focusing on increasing uptake amongst SMEs.
Despite Philpott stating: "We don't pretend to be a premium brand", he cited increasing numbers of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Land Rover models being traded in for the new Sorento, reflecting the shift of design and desirability up the company's list of priorities.

Following the increased importance placed on design, Kia is now focusing on engineering and perceived quality to help its new models take on rivals from more upmarket brands.