Kia Motors Europe has appointed Michael Cole as its new chief operating officer, succeeding Paul Philpott as the carmaker’s second-highest executive in Europe after spending a longtime as Toyota executive. Prior to his appointment as Kia Motors Europe’s new COO, Cole had been the managing director of the carmaker’s unit in the United Kingdom since August 2009.
During his tenure as head of Kia’s UK operations, Cole was responsible for setting a full-year sales record in 2010. Just 10 months after, he broke the record when Kia’s UK sales for January-October 2011 reached 57,736 vehicles. This year, Kia UK is on pace to set another sales record, which is expected to exceed over 65,000 vehicles. In his new role, Cole will have to rise to the challenge to meet or surpass Kia's aggressive growth plan for Europe.
The South Korean carmaker is targeting to grab a three-percent market share in Europe by 2016 or 2017. Kia had aimed to achieve the goal in 2013, but was forced to modify the deadline due to current sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
Kia also had moved the deadline to 2015. Kia is expecting to post a 13-percent increase in sales in Europe this year to a record 340,000 units. The carmaker posted an 18-percent increase in sales in Europe in the first 10 months of 2012 to 285,883 vehicles, good for a market share of 2.7 percent, according to industry association ACEA.
In a statement, outgoing Kia Motors Europe COO Philpott remarked that Cole is the “ideal person” to bear the responsibility of growing Kia's brand appeal and commercial strength in a European market that is facing “some very big economic challenges." Philpott said Cole will find a strong team and organization at Kia’s European headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, adding that the carmaker’s European units and distributors will welcome his “cool, calm and reasoned approach” to the car business.