In a fairly buoyant UK new car market, Kia’s star continues to rise with sales up 10 percent so far this year and that has been achieved despite cutting back on fleet sales.

President and chief executive officer of Kia UK, Paul Philpott, said that retail sales are up 22 percent so far this year compared to 2012 while fleet has remained flat.

“We have consciously reduced sales to low margin business such as daily rental from 8,500 to 6,000 but we are well on track to achieve sales of over 72,000 vehicles this year, up from 66,000 last year.”

The South Korean manufacturer is struggling to maintain growth because it has run out of factory capacity globally and while that’s a good position to be in currently, it makes things tougher in terms of building sales.

Philpott said: “What it does mean, though, is that we can concentrate on quality and customer retention. We have built up a pretty loyal following but there are still plenty of people out there who have yet to try a Kia or put one on their shopping list. I think it is quite reasonable to achieve 100,000 sales a year in the UK by the end of the decade.”

In new product terms, this year and next have been quiet, the new Soul and cee’d GT are coming, and Philpott added: “This does give us time to concentrate on the service we give to customers. We have been encouraging online reviews and we publish them warts and all. So far we have had 6,000 customer reviews and our average score is 8.9 out of 10 – that’s impressive.

“We are also seeing our dealers investing heavily in the brand because they have built up a lot of confidence. We have a number of dual franchise outlets who are now switching to Solus Kia which is a measure of how good they feel about the brand.

“If you take the Sportage as an example, four years after launch it is selling better than ever – 20,000 a year, up from 3,000.”

Other car companies are sitting up and taking notice. Philpott said: “They can no longer ignore us and are now benchmarking what we do. A number of other companies have started to follow us with online reviews for example. Five years ago people didn’t care what Kia did, now it’s very different.”

The brand currently has no electric or hybrid offering but they are in the pipeline, Philpott added. “We are watching to see how the market develops and we will introduce them when the time is right.”

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