Paul Philpott, chief operating officer at Kia Europe, has revealed Kia’s “ambitious” growth plans in the European region. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Philpott said that Kia aims to increase its new-car sales to around 450,000 units a year by 2013 from the 262,627 units sold last year. For 2011, the company intends to increase its sales by 15 percent to 300,000 vehicles.
To achieve these goals, Philpott is relying on a bigger share of fleet sales, better-designed cars and expanded European production. According to him, the company has the product, the dealer confidence and the ambition to obtain its goals.
In 2010, the company’s European market share was 1.9 percent, but it enjoyed a 4 percent to 5 percent market share in the segments that it was focusing on. For this year, the company is renewing its offerings in three core segments: mid-sized vehicles, minicars and subcompacts. These vital segments comprise 75 percent of the European market.
Philpott further stated that the company’s targets are not “overly ambitious” but are “simply ambitious.” Moreover, he said that the company’s production in Europe is “now critical” for Kia sales in the region. In 2010, approximately 60 percent of the company’s sales were produced in Europe, and these included the Sportage, Venga and Cee'd models.
The remaining 40 percent, which comes from South Korea, includes Carnival, Sorento, Rio and Picanto. The company intends to relocate European production of the Venga this summer from Hyundai’s Nosovice plant in Czech Republic to Kia's Zilina factory in Slovakia.
Hyundai’s ix35 production will be transferred to the Hyundai factory and the Venga will be moved to Kia’s plant, freeing up the production capacity in Kia’s Slovakia factory for the very popular new Sportage.