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Kia still targetting five per cent share

Key model: The Kia Cerato is just hitting its stride on the local sales charts after its staggered launch that kicked off in April last year.

Updated models and better supply to help Kia’s push for five per cent share by 2015

Kia logo17 Feb 2014

KIA Motors Australia is confident it can achieve its long-stated goal of five per cent market share by 2015, despite a drop in sales last year.

Attaining a figure of five per cent share would, based on last year’s figures, place the Korean contender ahead of Honda and Subaru, and about level with Volkswagen.

Speaking with GoAuto at the launch of the second-generation Soul hatch last week, Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Tony Barlow reiterated the volume target for mid-decade, and predicted strong growth for the company this year.

“Our intentions are still there with that,” he said, citing a largely new model range and good supply on key models such as the Cerato and Sorento.

“We will discuss it a bit more later in the year, but we are well on track to be able to move towards that number in market share terms, and five per cent is our aspirational goal. So I think we will be able to discuss it probably at the next launch.”

Last year, Kia sold 29,778 vehicles in Australia, for a 2.6 per cent share – half its medium-term target – slightly down on its 2012 result of 30,758 units and 2.8 per cent share.

The diminutive Rio was Kia’s top-selling model last year with 9160 units sold, followed by the Sportage compact-SUV with 6348 sales and the Cerato hatch and sedan range with 5785 units shifted.

While he refused to discuss specific sales targets for this year, Mr Barlow said he was confident Kia would top 30,000 sales in 2014 thanks to its established model line-up.

“I will still play a little bit coy about our target, but certainly well in excess of 30,000 units.

“It is a year that we are going to reap the rewards of the model line-up that we have in place now and certainly our models are established so we believe it’s a year of opportunity and growth for us.”

 center imageFrom top: Kia Rio, Soul, Sportage, Optima, Sorento and Pro cee'd GT.

Kia’s January result of 2484 units saw the company creep into the top 10, just edging out Honda on 2471 sales and sitting behind ninth-placed Subaru with 3051 units sold and Volkswagen in eighth spot on 4048 sales.

Mr Barlow said Kia could cement its position as a top-10 car-maker throughout the year if it maintained its current sales levels.

“In January we were top 10 and that’s where we believe we should be in each of the months. I think our volumes as indicated for 2014 will certainly be able to achieve that consistently.” One model that will be key to the company’s sales success this year is the Cerato small-car range that went on sale in sedan guise in April last year followed by the hatch in August.

After a slow start to sales, the Cerato picked up in January with 573 units sold, its best result since April last year when 610 Ceratos found homes across the country.

Mr Barlow acknowledged that Cerato has taken some time to ignite, which he put down to supply issues and a staggered launch program for the model over several months.

“We launched Cerato last year in several phases. The good supply of product came late in the year. So we really opened up in January with some retail advertising and a strong push.

“So supply, the market and general awareness of Cerato grew very rapidly over the back end of the year, hence the good result in January,” he said.

Mr Barlow also said the company’s sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis tournament impacted Cerato sales in January, with the focus on the brand giving the small car contender “a very strong push”.

The company is pinning its hopes for further sales growth on the Cerato, with Mr Barlow saying he sees more opportunity in the small-car segment that occupies a massive 25.6 per cent market share in Australia.

“Certainly, we are up to 600 units a month and our intention is to continue to grow in that segment. It is the fastest growing segment in the passenger vehicle market at the moment and there is plenty of opportunity for growth there.

“We believe Cerato is one of the best cars in the segment. And we know that customers’ response is growing very positively to the car.”

Supply issues also impacted sales of the Sorento family-sized SUV which was down 12 per cent last year to 2887 sales from 3276 sales in 2012 but Mr Barlow said the company has resolved these issues and is looking for some growth in that segment this year.

“We did have a little bit of a supply problem with Sorento last year but that’s certainly a model we will be working towards improving in 2014. That segment is very active. The large SUV segment is growing and we have been able to secure what we believe will be a reasonable volume to continue growing Sorento.”

A number of models in Kia’s current line-up have been refreshed or replaced in recent months, with the second-gen Soul going on sale last week and the refreshed Optima landing in showrooms last month, while Kia switched sourcing for the Sportage from South Korea to Slovakia in June last year, bringing with it some minor updates.

Next month will see the launch of Kia’s second turbo model, the European Pro_C’eed GT.

The line-up will receive a major boost in the later part of the year with the arrival of a facelifted Rio hatch in quarter three, an all-new Sorento late in the fourth quarter and the replacement for the aging Carnival people-mover also in the final quarter.

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