A gentle process of almost doubling its UK corporate share through more desirable product is one of Kia‘s top priorities as it continues to develop more interest in the brand.

At present, the Korean firm has the biggest weighting towards retail of the top dozen manufacturers, according to Kia UK boss Michael Cole, who claimed the company took 1.6% of the fleet market and 3.2% of retail sales.

“There will be an expansion of the business – if we go from 1.6% to 3% in the next three years, why not?” Cole told BusinessCar. “We’ll be knocking on the door of 4% retail share this year and we’re keen to grow in the right areas.”

Cole said maintaining the current 70:30 ratio in favour of retail “isn’t ideal for growth and creating used vehicle stock”, and said he’d be “very comfortable” with a 60:40 retail ratio, and “wouldn’t be too concerned if it went to 55:45”.

Cole said the new Kia Sportage crossover model has helped put Kia on the map by being a vehicle fleets “want to put on their lists”, which has an additional benefit: “The spin-off for us is that once we get onto a list for crossovers or upper medium models, it increases the chances in the lower medium segment as we’re getting onto a lot of fleet manager’s lists. The great news about Sportage is that it’s already got us a lot of conquest business, customers that wouldn’t have had us on their shopping list 12 or 18 months ago.”

Cole is also looking to increase the fleet team at Kia, specifically in the contract hire sector, although new fleet boss John Hargreaves will have the final say on the structure he feels will best deliver his targets.

The company is looking to build on its Sportage success with the new Rio supermini and Optima upper medium models, coming in the summer and in late 2011 respectively. “The big news is Optima, and we’re not naive,” said Cole. “Most important is what it says about our ability to build a D-segment [upper medium] car that appeals.”

He also said the Rio would enjoy some demand from users choosers and job-need fleets, but there wouldn’t be too much “quality fleet business” in a sector that feeds off the daily rental, bodyshop and courtesy car business that Cole isn’t keen to dabble too heavily in.

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