Michael Cole, chief operating officer at Kia Europe, has set an annually sales target of 500,000 cars in a five-year term.
Kia Europe’s last year sales were around 354,000 units, but brand’s CEO Michael Cole plans to expand the total volume up to 500,000 cars by the end of the decade. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Cole believes the design is the main reason customers are attracted to Kia and the brand perception has evolved as the model’s vehicles are no longer viewed only as affordable ones. “People no longer buy the Sportage because of the price but because of the look. We want to evolve that but without latest new launches we have also focused on improving other aspects, such as interior quality, noise, vibration and harshness, as well as ride and handling. This will be a real driver of future growth,” he admits.
The third-generation Sportage moved Kia away from having a budget SUV image, but how will the new model be perceived? “It will not take us to 500,000 sales for the brand, but I think it will do volumes that are similar to the previous-generation model. The Sportage has helped change the perception of the brand and this year we will likely sell more than 100,000 third-generation cars, most to first-time Kia buyers,” Cole said. Optima midsize sedan is also playing an important role in Kia’s plan, as “fleets will become increasingly important to us as we go to 500,000 by 2020. This can’t all come from private buyers. We may have to move to a 55 to 45 percent private-to-fleet sales channel split from 60-40 currently. The market for the D-segment is moving more and more toward premium brands all the time, so it’s not our intention to sell a middle-of-the-road, load-lugging car,” he admits.
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