Kia’s sales chief faces tougher challenge despite 24-month sales record

Article by Anita Panait, on September 7, 2012

Kia Motors America (KMA) has set sales records in the United States for 24 consecutive months, a huge achievement for Tom Loveless, the executive vice president of sales for KMA. KMA has also been recording annual sales growth in the US for 17 years. Loveless, along with KMA’s executive vice president for marketing & communications Mike Sprague, still faces the hard task of sustaining that sales growth.

The secret for their success: they don’t sell vehicles that don’t sell. The company’s consecutive monthly records began shortly after Kia commenced the operations of its West Point assembly plant in Georgia in November. That provided the carmaker with a steady supply of Sorentos and Optimas to augment its imports, allowing Kia to boost its sales and capture the seventh spot of best-selling brands in the US. Kia didn’t stop there.

This year, the carmaker added a third shift and increased its production capacity to 360,000 units a year. Kia, however, will only receive less than 300,000 units from the West Point plant, as the site also produces the Santa Fe for sister brand Hyundai. However, that would be enough for 40 percent local sourcing if the carmaker remains on track for a 4 percent U.S. market share in 2012.

That would translate into an expected 572,000 vehicle sales for Kia this year, up 18 percent from 2011. Loveless plans to further increase Kia’s sales volume and US market share in 2013, but will not source the additional vehicles from the West Point plant.

According to Loveless, Kia would increase its volume in 2013 by importing cars. KMA is jostling for a bigger 2013 allocation from its South Korean, after receiving an additional 10,000 units of the Soul this year. Kia’s operations in other parts of world are also clamoring for more products, but the carmaker only has limited resources. Loveless hinted that some other international markets are "tougher than others."

Topics: kia, sales, record

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