KIA Insider

Kia UK unit planning as best it can for Brexit as emissions challenge looms

Kia Motors (UK) said it had been planning as best it can for Brexit - despite there being no clear word yet on what the 'deal', if any, with the EU will be after the UK exits, should that happen on 31 October as prime minister Boris Johnson as been promising in this week of his Conservative Party annual conference.

If there's no deal, "our cars from Europe become 10% more expensive", media relations chief Steve Kitson told journalists attending the launch of the latest vehicle from the Zilina, Slovakia plant, the XCeed. Most of the more popular models in the UK range are made in the EU and Kitson confirmed there would, of course, be no extra tariffs on South Korean sourced models should the UK crash out of the EU deal-less and resort, initially at least, to trading on World Trading Organisation (WTO) terms which add that 10% tariff on vehicles.

"The future is a challenge," added Kitson, pointing out that, next year, the Kia brand has, along with all other market players, "to hit a new emissions target".

Said target is 95g/km of CO2 across the range.

"If we crash out [of the EU], we can't factor in the European markets with all those lovely [lower CO2 emissions] diesel markets in the east so have to do it on our own," Kitson said.

The solution: electricity. Kitson promised three of 10 Kia cars would be electrified in some way and pointed to the success the brand has been enjoying with its electrified Niro line, allocation of which for this year "sold out in three weeks".

A redesigned Soul EV is coming and Kia's goal is to "become a major EV seller".

There'll be PHEV variants of the XCeed and the Sorento as well.

The brand, though only a circa-5-6% market share player here in the UK, is continuing to do well in 2019.

"We closed September very well with another record" - 16,400 sales "which sets us up nicely to do 97,000 this year".

"We believe, regardless of Brexit, we will hit that."

Kitson said UK dealers are "also very positive".

A fourth quarter round of meetings with the retailers heard them say Kia has the "right cars in the right place at the right time, and people want to buy them".

The importer and dealers are both "excited by the XCeed", Kitson added.

This fourth variant of the Zilina-built (very well, on exposure to three launch demo cars) is expected to account for as much as 50% of total range sales in a full year.

Kia's UK mainstays are the four body styles of Ceed, the Sportage and Stonic medium and small SUVs plus the welcome-to-electrification Niro line while the entry level Picanto is still "holding up well".

Adding the XCeed crossover will, Kitson said, "help grow Ceed's appeal in the market".

He backs that up by saying "showroom" [demo] cars have been with dealers for three weeks and 67% of orders taken so far are 'conquest' sales where buyers are switching brands.

"We have to bring new people to the brand," Kitson added.

"We don't like to make cars nobody wants to buy, nobody does.

"Crossovers are what retail buyers want, fleet user-choosers, too."

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more