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Kia guns for top five UK sales

Paul Philpott, president of Kia UK, said he is confident this will be the case no matter what the size of the overall UK market.

He added: ‘Our growth will not depend on the UK market growing, we will get there because we have the right products. Even with a static market in the UK and big falls in Europe, we are still gaining sales.

‘I see the UK market staying at around 2.1 million for the next 10 years, I can't see it returning to the 2.4 million or 2.5 million we saw in the early 2000s because those figures were inflated anyway.’

Kia has just had its best ever first quarter in the UK since the scrappage years, selling 19,204 vehicles, up 11.6% from 17,211 in the first three months of last year. Philpott said that growth will only slow as the Korean company runs out of global capacity.

‘All our plants are running flat-out and if this continues then there will have to be a decision within the next 18 months to two years about increasing capacity. Until then we will concentrate on improving quality even more and retaining our existing customers.’

Kia currently has 172 UK dealers and plans to move this up to between 180 and 185 by filling some important open points, particularly around London. Philpott said: ‘These are high-cost areas so not easy to fill, but potentially high volume so we could easily added a good chunk of market share by plugging these gaps.’

Further good news for dealers is that with more Kias taking to the roads, so their service bays are becoming busier. Philpott added: ‘There are currently around 220,000 Kias on the road and in four or five years' time there will 500,000 so our dealers will have to look at their workshop capacity.

‘We are not asking them to go out and buy more land, but to use their ramps and technicians more effectively, particularly for those dealers with a single franchise. For those with more than one franchise we hope they will be moving the dividing walls further in our direction.’

Kia's seven-year warranty has also been instrumental in building customer confidence, he added – and the first ones will be running out in a year's time.

The warranty was introduced almost seven years ago on the first Slovakian-built cee'd. Philpott said that the first six years had not thrown up any “time bombs”.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.