Car Dealer Live: Kia boss Paul Philpott on bumper sales, switching to EV and why now isn’t the time for online-only sales

Time 11:50 am, October 16, 2020

Kia Motors UK & Ireland boss Paul Philpott said his dealers are getting the rewards they deserved for a challenging year. 

In turn, they were celebrated by happy dealers who voted them top of our Car Dealer Power survey, and Philpott explained to James Batchelor on a special Car Dealer Live that the brand is in ‘a good place’.

The brand has been flying since showrooms reopened, but it’s been a good year generally for Kia with a great start before the UK was forced into lockdown.

A large part of that seems to have come from their clear EV messaging and great relationships with customers.

Philpott said: ‘We’re in a good place. Our product range is strong, people are looking more so for value in products, seven-year warranty has always been a key message for us.

‘But if you’re going to be strong and grow in today’s marketplace, you need a good range of electrified cars.

‘Year-to-date about 22-23 per cent of our sales are electrified, i.e. hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV.

‘And if I look at the full-year perspective, I think around 11 or maybe 12 per cent of our total sales full year will be pure-electric vehicles.’

Kia has two all-electric vehicles in the UK, the Kia Soul EV and e-Niro, of which the latter was released last year.

Philpott explained: ‘If you look at the two real drivers of demand at the moment, it’s either eco or it’s SUV. If you’ve got a combination of the both, you’re in a good position.’

It wasn’t an easy start for the e-Niro, despite orders coming in the UK branch of Kia struggled to get hold of the models fast enough.

That’s all over now, though, Philpott told Car Dealer.

He said: ‘Dealers have done a really good job with e-Niro. Customers were prepared to wait so we’ve had a long order bank ever since What Car? Car of the Year.

‘The supply is getting better and to demonstrate that to the end of August we’ve registered about 3,000 e-Niro. In September alone, we’ll register around 1,600.

‘I would expect in Q4 to add another 3-3,500.’

Kia has worked hard to train dealers in the best ways to communicate these different technologies with customers, and that’s why Philpott doesn’t believe all people are ready to buy online.

He said: ‘I think it underlines why you need well-trained dealers delivering a great experience because it is now a complex choice that people have to make.

Get more from Car Dealer

  • Premium stories
  • Used car data
  • Magazine early access

‘All these people who say people will buy online without that. I think the same way people will go to an Apple Store to ask for advice on an Apple product and our products are a lot more complex.

‘With a lot of new technologies and quite a bewildering choice of powertrains, I think they’re looking for a consultant, a specialist advisor, who can help a consumer make the right decision.’

Watch the interview in full by clicking play on the video at the top of this page and read the interview in our latest magazine below.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

More stories...

Server 190