How Kia plans to overtake Citroen, Hyundai and Toyota with new-model ramp-up

Published: 06 March 2015

► Kia guns for 100,000 UK sales by 2020
► Entire range renewed by 2018
► New models, tech spearhead growth

Kia has set itself the ambitious task of selling 100,000 cars a year by in the UK by 2020, a sales target that will put it head-to-head with big-hitting rivals such as Citroen, Toyota and sibling Hyundai.

And with models like the slinky Kia Sportspace concept on show at the 2015 Geneva motor show destined to join the range - and a new sports coupe - it's hard to argue against the momentum being on the Koreans' side.

Kia: still on a growth spurt

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Kia shifted 77,525 cars in 2014 across Great Britain, and by the end of 2015 president and CEO Paul Philpott anticipates sales will climb to 80,000. This paves the way for accelerated growth drive to top 100,000 by the end of the decade. Last year Citroen, Hyundai and Toyota sold 83,397, 81,986 and 94,012 cars, respectively.

This sales drive is part of a huge European offensive that, according to Kia Europe’s chief operating officer Michael Cole, will see Kia Europe sell 500,000 cars a year before 2020. 'That’s a 40% increase in growth, but we think that’s achievable after six consecutive years of growth in Europe,' Cole told CAR this week at the Geneva motor show.

Which new models will fuel Kia's expansion?

Key to achieving this incremental growth will be a slew of design-led new models for Kia’s 180 rebranded UK dealerships. By 2018, Kia plans to renew every car in its current range. 'This year we launch our all-new Sorento in April, we have major enhancements to our core Picanto and Rio ranges plus an update of Venga,' explained UK boss Philpott. 'Later in the year we will see exciting developments in the Ceed range and an all-new Optima.'

Within the next 36 months, the Optima saloon will be joined for the first time by an estate – closely previewed by the handsome lantern-jawed Sportspace concept – and a two-seater roadster/coupe is also on the cards.

Design chief Peter Schreyer has made no secret of his desire to have a compact and lightweight two-seater join the Kia ranks, hinted at by his team’s 2014 GT4 Stinger and 2013 Provo concepts. Bring it on, we say. More dynamic, emotional cars are surely needed to balance out the pragmatic appeal already established by the more European, well-warranted and good value Kias.

New engines coming too

More desirable metal will be complemented by new downsized drivetrains, including the direct-injection three-cylinder 120bhp 1.0-litre T-GDI petrol engine and seven-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox that also made their debut at Geneva. 

Currently available on all Ceed models, expect the company's popular new GT Line trim (which adds all the visual drama of the muscular GT models but without their mechanical upgrades) to also be rolled out across the Picanto, Rio and Soul ranges over the next 24 months.

Click here for more news from the Geneva motor show 2015.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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