Kia has ambitious growth plans for Europe. This year, Kia wants to increase its sales by 15 percent to 300,000 units. By 2013, Kia aims to boost its annual new-car sales to about 450,000 units from 262,627 last year, Kia Europe Chief Operating Officer Paul Philpott told Automotive News Europe.
Philpott counts on better-designed cars, a bigger share of fleet sales and expanded European production to help achieve the goals.
Said Philpott: "We have the product, the ambition and the dealer confidence to get there. Last year, Kia had a 1.9 percent overall share in Europe, but we enjoy a 4 percent to 5 percent share in the segments where we operate successfully. This year we are renewing our offerings in three key segments – minicars, subcompacts and mid-sized cars – which cover a combined 75 percent of the European market, so I do not think our targets are overly ambitious. They are simply ambitious."
Philpott added that the company's European production "is now critical" for Kia sales in the region. In 2010, about 60 percent of Kia's sales were produced in Europe. This included the Venga, Cee'd and Sportage models. The remaining 40 percent – the Picanto, Rio, Sorento and Carnival – come from South Korea.
Kia plans to relocate European production of the Venga this summer from the Hyundai plant in Nosovice, Czech Republic, to Kia's factory in Zilina, Slovakia.
"Hyundai ix35 production will move to the Hyundai plant and the Venga will move to our plant. This will free production capacity in Slovakia for the highly successful new Sportage."
In 2009, Kia sold about 20,000 units of the past-generation Sportage model "and we thought we were bold in planning to more than double sales of the new generation to 50,000 units this year. But demand is currently running at an annual pace above 70,000 units, so we need the extra production capacity that this move will create."
Technically, the maximum production capacity in Zilina is 300,000 units a year with three shifts, according to Philpott, but to get there Kia also needs to increase powertrain capacity. Last year Kia built 230,000 units in Zilina, including supplying Kia and Hyundai products for Russia and other eastern European markets.