Kia’s UK growth proves its new-found appeal

Kia is forecasting a ten per cent increase in sales in 2011 to build on a hugely successful 2010 which saw Kia expand its market share in both Europe and the US thanks to a new range of models.

The success of the Kia Sportage SUV crossover has been the main driving force behind sales, according to Benny Oeyen, Vice President Marketing and Product Planning, Kia Motors Europe.

“In Europe, the introduction of the new Kia Sportage has been a catalyst for our growth, with more consumers than ever considering the Kia brand for the first time," he said.

Describing the new Kia range as ‘relevant’, Oeyen believes customer demand is behind ten million exports to Europe and the US in just five year and it will continue as new models arrive.

He said: "With the launch of the all-new Picanto and Rio models over the coming months, we are confident that we will see increasing numbers of ‘conquest sales’ moving forward,”

The new Kia Picanto city car and larger Kia Rio were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and feature the same modern designs as the Kia Sportage, in particular in the distinctive feline headlamps and Kia’s new grille.

The new look Kia designs have gone some way to raising the profile of the once budget manufacturer. An increase in build quality and equipment levels has helped Kia close the gap on popular volume manufacturers such as Vauxhall and Ford.

Kia currently build cars in South Korea and Zilina, Slovakia, where production has reached a record 229,500 cars in 2010 – a 52 per cent increase on the previous year.

Kia will introduce the new Picanto and Rio in the next few months in the UK. A new saloon, the Kia Optima, will also be released in the UK with petrol and diesel engine options. A hybrid version of the new saloon will be launched next year in Europe.