Electric cars helping hybrid sales, finds Kia UK
Kia UK’s president and CEO, Paul Philpott, has said the new e-Niro has attracted mostly new customers to the brand and increased hybrid sales.
Having sold its first allocation for the UK in less than a month, Philpott said: “We’re currently saying to customers, that if you order an e-Niro today, it is likely to be delivered in the first-quarter of 2020. But, of course we’re still in discussions with Korea as to how many cars we can get in the latter part of this year.”
Whether the e-Niro is available or not, it seems to be acting as a halo for interest in other models, the Niro Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid. According to Philpott, sales are up 50% year-on-year for the hybrid alone. “We’re finding buyers who weren’t aware of the Niro Hybrid have come into the showroom on the back of the e-Niro and realise that we have a Niro that you don’t have to plug-in.”
Additionally, the e-Niro has mostly been sold to private buyers who are apparently happy to wait out the delivery delay, as well as being new to the brand. Philpott commented: “As supply improves, we shall look at how we introduce e-Niro into other sales channels. At the moment, we are targeting retail buyers, leasing and pure fleet business.” More impressive is e-Niro orders have so far been taken with zero discount!
Asked if the forthcoming Soul EV, that was revealed at the recent Geneva Motor Show alongside an all-new ‘Imagine by Kia’ concept electric car, might alleviate some of the electric car supply issues, Philpott thinks it will help: “Possibly. We have the joy of managing two EVs that will be in high demand and the key to this is how we ramp up supply.
“What I think is really encouraging, is that because we have a long order bank residual values will be strong. Electric vehicles have been on a bit of a roller coaster for the last couple of years, in terms or RVs and what we will see is a consistently improving position on residual values, which then helps the accessibility of the new car.”
According to Philpott, the main take-up from fleet is for Sportage, Ceed and increasingly Niro hybrid – with some electric as well, but that remains small volume in fleet because of the lead times. “If we could say you could get [the e-Niro] in the next quarter, there would be a lot more demand”, Philpott concluded.
The comments follow Kia UK’s recent study that concluded demand for electric vehicles is reaching a tipping point for fleets.