Kia aims to further increase its Europe market share this year but will revise its goal if the coronavirus pandemic is not brought under control, its top European executive said.
"We are off to a rough start but if the current wave doesn't go beyond February and we can see a recovery in March, then we can still save the year," Kia Europe Chief Operating Officer Emilio Herrera told Automotive News Europe.
Kia will move "to be more realistic" if the pandemic does not ease, Herrera said.
Kia's vehicles sales fell 17 percent to 416,715 in 2020 in the EU, EFTA and UK countries in a market down 24 percent, according to data from industry association ACEA. Its market share grew to 3.5 percent from 3.2 percent, almost matching its sibling brand Hyundai, whose share remained stable at 3.6 percent.
Kia was helped by its relatively low volume of sales to short-term car rental car companies, which last year took a big hit in countries such as Spain because tourism and business trips were slashed by the pandemic.
Kia also usually performs better than most competitors in crisis times because its cars are perceived by consumers as a rational choice, Herrera said.
Kia also put some very aggressive actions in place to boost sales. For example, in France the brand reduced the interest rate for financing and allowed buyers to defer payments until January 2021.
Kia's 2021 goal for European vehicle sales is 500,000. The brand last sold more than half a million cars in the region in 2019 when its volume was 502,841.
A possible 20 percent increase for Kia would slightly outperform the European market as a whole, Herrera said.
Kia's sales may be dragged down by market-specific issues, such as Brexit-related red tape in the UK and the uncertainty about rental cars and a change in CO2 emissions taxes in Spain.