Kia is planning a major campaign of alternative-fuel vehicle launches in the next four years.
The brand’s European boss, Michael Cole, said: “By 2020, Kia will offer 14 alternative-fuel vehicles globally. They will include EVs, hybrids and plug-in hybrids, as well as a fuel cell model.”
A hybrid Optima estate is due soon, along with a plug-in version of the Niro, joining the recently launched Niro hybrid, the established Soul EV and the hybrid Optima saloon. Cole, who believes that hybrids are now more widely accepted, added that a fuel cell Kia will appear “around 2020”.
Cole also confirmed that Kia is developing a small crossover to rival the Nissan Juke, as revealed by Autocar in 2014. “It’s very exciting and a natural fit because of the Sportage and Sorento SUVs,” he said. “It’s an area where we’ve actually got some heritage.”
Kia is also strengthening its enthusiast offerings, notably with its first dedicated sports model, the production version of the 2011 GT concept due to emerge next year. “The sports car is a halo model,” said Cole. “It’s sporty, a modern design and has better dynamics. Now is the time for a GT from Kia, because it’s credible.”
Kia has yet to reveal the official name of the car, but it’s thought that it might not be labelled ‘GT’ for the sake of clarity, with the firm now offering popular GT-line trim packs on several models.
The new compact crossover is expected to be a key driver of Kia’s sales ambitions, with the brand aiming to sell 500,000 cars a year in Europe by 2018. It is on course to sell 430,000 cars in Europe this year, slightly ahead of its target of 425,000. “We have a history of hitting targets, because the plan isn’t just a number; it’s built around new product,” said Cole.
For the UK, the aim is to lift annual sales to 120,000-plus by 2018, a sizeable increase on the 88,000 to 90,000 it expects to sell this year, according to UK boss Paul Philpott. Aside from new products, that increase is also expected to stem from rising sales to fleets, although Philpott is keen to avoid any discounting wars.
Around 60% of European sales are to private buyers, said Cole, the highest of any volume brand. “We don’t want to lose these buyers, but equally this is a fleet opportunity,” he added. “Kia also enjoys the highest rate of conquest sales of any volume maker, at 70%.”