While brands such as Mini and Citroen offer buyers the opportunity to customise their new cars, Kia has firmly said it will not offer such services because it takes too much time to fulfill orders.
‘Customisation is not on the agenda,’ said Kia Motor UK’s commercial director, Yaser Shabsogh. ‘For us, the positives of a simplified ordering system outdo the negatives; it makes it easier to manage the orders and stock.’
One area the manufacturer is taking a look at, however, is the addition of more technology to its models – but only if the developments are appealing across all major European markets.
‘More technology in our cars is something we are thinking about and will be working on in the future,’ said Shabsogh. ‘However, it’s important to remember that our products have to work throughout the whole of Europe, so occasionally we have to sacrifice certain technological features if it’s not sought after in other countries.’
Kia believes it’s important for its cars to remain as basic and as simple as possible in order to ensure that a large volume of vehicles can roll off the production line and be delivered to customers on time. ‘If the German market was in-line with us and wanted the same features as we do, we might be able to win some of these arguments, but we have to cater for the whole European market,’ said Shabsogh.
The Korean manufacturer says that if stock were to take longer to reach the UK, customers may not have the patience to wait for their vehicles, ultimately damaging dealers’ customer retention.
‘You’re currently looking at a minimum of 35 days at sea for vehicles to be shipped from Korea to the UK and if we start customising our cars, customers might have to wait anything up to six weeks – this could really impact our customer retention.’
Shabsogh admitted Kia’s customers want more high-spec cars, but offering personalisation programmes is not the way to achieve this.
‘Customisation can effect the second-hand market when it comes to matching cars to the right customer,’ Shabsogh added. ‘We see it as, the simpler the line up the better it is and that works for us at the moment. The base models are selling well.’