Kia is one of the fastest-growing brands in Australia. Now it is targeting a Top 5 sales spot if it can edge ahead of Ford, as it closes the gap to sister brand Hyundai. 
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South Korean auto giant Kia is working overtime to make it into the Top Five on the new-car sales charts in Australia after coming within a whisker of beating Ford so far this year – and trailing sister brand Hyundai in April by just 65 sales (5772 versus 5707).

Seven years ago, Kia wasn’t even inside the Top 10. But as one of the fastest-growing brands in Australia, the company now has its sights on overtaking Ford for fifth place.

So far this year, Ford reported 22,934 new cars as sold versus Kia’s tally for the first four months of the year of 22,880 deliveries, just 54 sales behind.

Kia sales in Australia have more than doubled in the past seven years – from 28,000 annual deliveries in 2014 to more than 61,000 prior to the pandemic – whereas its sister brand Hyundai has slumped from a peak of more than 101,000 annual sales to 64,800 deliveries last year.

“We think we will be a solid Top Five brand for the next 20 years,” said Damien Meredith, the boss of Kia Australia, in a roundtable interview with media this week.

When asked if there was an internal target to beat Kia’s sister brand Hyundai – where Mr Meredith worked for 10 years before taking over as the boss of Kia Australia seven years ago – he said: “Are we direct competitors in a lot of areas? Bloody oath we are. (But) it doesn’t consume us to beat what they do.”

Mr Meredith said Kia sales in 2014 were just 28 per cent of what Hyundai sold in Australia; so far this year Kia’s sales are 92 per cent of sister brand Hyundai’s current delivery rate.

Although Kia has overtaken Hyundai on two individual months before, it could be some time before it overtakes its sibling in the annual sales race.

“It’s like the footy coach, let’s get the process right and the results will look after themselves,” said Mr Meredith, who celebrated seven years as the boss of Kia Australia this week.

“Overall,” he said, “you want the (Hyundai-Kia) group to be strong … because if the group’s strong, they can tip more money into (research and development of future models) and make the business stronger.”