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Kia targets 2020 sales of 50,000

Date: 25 September 2015   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Kia's new lower-emission, fourth-generation Sportage SUV, backed by a quadrupling sales for the new Optima, will help push the Korean brand's fleet volume from 34,575 in 2014, up to 50,000 sales by 2020, while the company is also planning to offer plug-in petrol-electric variants within two years, according to UK chief executive and president Paul Philpott.

Although Kia concentrates on what it describes as core fleet, outside of Motability, captive and daily rental channels, Philpott was bullish about business car prospects, particularly across user-chooser, contract hire and leasing sectors.

He said: "While we don't aspire to premium status, the brand is becoming more upscale with a richer specification mix, reflected by higher user-chooser uptake for the Sportage and Sorento of the two top-line specifications, priced at up to £40,000.

With a total sales target of 100,000 units in 2020, building on 80,000 this year, we envisage a 50,000 fleet-sales total by the end of the decade across all channels."

As that business car momentum grows, Philpott plans to increase the number of business-specialist dealers from 24 to 30 next year from a network of 187 outlets. This will double the number of dedicated operations compared with three years ago, incorporating specific resources including additional demonstrators to avoid sharing cars with retail customer test drives.

Propelling this business will be the new Sportage, due for sales release next February and benefitting from an updated 1.7-litre diesel powertrain with CO2 ratings down from above 130g/km to 117g/km, which Philpott said "re-opens the books on capital allowance, something which limited us previously".

He continued: "Core fleet involves 60% of Sportage volume, and sales should rise by 10%. This car established us in the user-chooser, contract hire and leasing territories with definite migration from premium brands."

The third-generation Optima arriving at the end of this year will initially be sold in saloon-only diesel form, but business sales, accounting for 80% of volume, will rise as an estate version is rolled out next summer, with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol variant carrying the GT performance badge. The 'wagon' should account for two-thirds of Optima registrations.

Overall, Optima sales should climb from the modest, current 1000-unit tally to 4000, including the separate, complementary, predominantly cosmetic GT-line specification, which will be brought in across most of Kia's range.

Although Philpott would not confirm its existence, a plug-in hybrid is also planned for the Optima in 2017. Finally, Kia's powertrain initiative includes the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbo petrol EcoPower engine, with an expected CO2 rating at just over 100g/km for the refreshed Ceed from October 1. Kia believes this could reduce the diesel factor for lower-mileage corporate buyers.