The maker sold 31,232 cars, a total that represents a 6 per cent increase on 2007. This is despite the total car market falling by over 11 per cent – and some makers registering second-half falls of over 30 per cent.
The maker’s performance in the profitable retail sector is more impressive considering this area of the market fell 14.7 per cent.
Kia predicts a further 2-3 per cent rise during 2009. This is despite the Korean maker expecting the market to fall as a whole by a further 15 per cent.
MD Paul Philpott pointed to the retail performance as proof that Kia was ditching its former reliance on expensive buy-back fleet business. Car dealers have been instrumental in this transformation.
‘We wanted to work in partnership with motivated and profitable dealers, and the fact that we have been able to weather the desperate economic conditions that have hit the markets – particularly in the second-half of the year – is testament to that plan.
Yaser Shabsogh, sales director, continued the praise: ‘Every day has been a battle in the second half of 2008, but thanks to an excellent product line-up and a fantastic network, we have been able to go to the car buyers who are in the market and convince them of the sense of buying Kia.
There were 31 new dealer appointments during 2008, with 16 going live before the end of the year. The brand is still looking for more, too.
‘We shall continue to recruit high-quality dealers in 2009 to fill open points in our network,’ said Shabsogh
But he stressed the network will also remain profitable. Kia should ‘continue to offer unrivalled quality and value to retail and business customers,’ he said – and ‘ensure our dealers can make a sensible profit in tough times.’