FRANKFURT -- Kia expects its European market share to pass 3 percent this year for the first time, helped by new products such as the latest Picanto and Rio.
"This is a very significant year for us. We are making great strides toward our mid-term vision of 500,000 sales in Europe next year," Kia's European operations chief, Michael Cole, said.
Kia sold 435,317 vehicles in the EU and EFTA markets last year, up 13 percent year-on-year, for a 2.9 percent market share, according to industry association ACEA. Sister brand Hyundai's 2016 sales rose by 7.5 percent to 505,396 for a 3.3 percent share.
Kia's European sales increased by 20 percent in January, growing twice as fast as the overall market, as models launched in the second half of last year such as the Niro hybrid crossover and Optima wagon drove volume gains.
Kia plans to launch 22 new models, replacements and derivatives through 2020, including a Niro plug-in hybrid version as well as the rear-wheel-drive Stinger sports sedan.
In January Kia came within 4,300 cars from eclipsing Hyundai in Europe, but Cole does not expect that the model offensive will allow Kia to catch up to its larger sister brand, which breached the half-million-mark last year.
"We should have nearly a full year of new Rio sales and the Picanto contributes starting in May, so we certainly expect to grow volumes above 460,000 this year," he told Automotive News Europe on the sidelines of the Picanto's press launch here. "Given their sales last year was some margin higher than our target for this year, however, I think they will outsell us in 2017, as in all previous years."