The boss of Kia Australia says his brand will “definitely” rise to finish among the top 10 manufacturers in terms of sales in 2012.
Kia Motors Australia president and CEO Charlie Kim has set the admittedly ambitious target of growing at least 10 per cent this year, overtaking embattled Japanese manufacturer Honda in the process. The result would see Kia sell close to 30,000 vehicles for the year.
“I have set a target for double-digit percentage growth this year. That is a target which I believe will make Kia the fastest-growing brand in Australia. Ambitious, certainly. Achievable, definitely,” Kim said.
Kia sold 25,128 vehicles in Australia in 2011, making it the 11th highest selling automotive brand in the country, 4979 units behind 10th-placed Honda.
Kia hit the top 10 three times last year and made a solid start to 2012 with another appearance in January – its 2276 sales well clear of 11th-placed Suzuki (1667) and Honda in 12th (1579). Kim is adamant Kia will finish 2012 in the top 10.
“January’s result was just the beginning, the start of what we are pursuing this year. You will see much more in the coming months.
“Definitely we will be in top 10, this year.”
To achieve that feat, Kia Australia knows it will have to overcome the supply issues it struggled with last year.
Many Australians who ordered the Kia Sportage diesel in 2011 were forced to wait more than half a year to take delivery, while demand for the Optima medium sedan far exceeded supply, causing more frustration for customers.
Kim said he worked hard with the brand’s head office in South Korea last year to ensure the supply situation improved dramatically. He said Kia Motors Corporation shared Kia Australia’s vision, and said the manufacturer was keeping a closer eye on our market this year.
“I think this year the supply will be consistent,” Kim said.
Kia Australia national sales manager Alan Crouch confirmed Sportage and Optima wait times should normalise in 2012.
“Last year, Sportage diesel in particular was a shocker to be perfectly honest, and we let a few people down. Our waiting lists got out to unacceptable times.
“We’re aiming now at across the range up to eight to 10 weeks delivery depending on the model.”
Following the launch of the entry-level Optima Si in January, Crouch says Kia Australia now has double the supply it had in 2011.
“Optima now is not freely available, but it is available, in both model lines.
“And Sportage, we’re getting more diesel than last year as well, as well as a natural increase in total numbers, so we should be able to manage that a whole lot better this year.”
The all-new fourth-generation Kia Rio will be central to the brand’s success in 2012. Kia Australia delivered 6187 Rios last year and said its run-out campaign was so successful that it had almost no cars to sell for three months around the middle of the year.
Crouch says Kia will “blow that number apart” in 2012 with the new model, which is now available in three- and five-door hatch and four-door sedan body styles. He predicted the brand would sell “upwards of 7000 to 8000” units for the year.
The five-door model will dominate the sales split, with Kia expecting it to account for three quarters of all Rios sold in Australia.
Despite this, Kia Australia senior product manager Nick Reid said the recently launched three-door and sedan variants would create “valuable incremental sales opportunities” for the brand in the light segment.
Reid predicted the entry-level S specification – priced from $15,290 to $18,290 – would account for 60 per cent of sales, while more than two thirds of total Rio buyers are tipped to spend the extra $2000 to option in an automatic transmission.