Rather unbelievably, starting with white wall tyres and £1 deposits to an industry leading seven year warranty and numerous design awards, Kia Motors (UK) Ltd is celebrating 25 years in the UK. A quarter of a century! The brand first started trading here in 1991, selling just under 1,800 cars in the UK in that year – a figure that it now sells on average every two weeks across its 188 strong dealer network. That’s quite some expansion as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Looking back over Kia’s historical range, we can see that they started with just one model on sale in 1991 – the Kia Pride – and from this inauspicious beginning, the Kia range now covers nine segments with 12 cars on offer and with three engine types available in the UK, petrol, diesel and electric. And right on cue, this is soon to be expanded with the great looking and all-new petrol hybrid Niro going on sale in August.
With UK sales totalling 763,500 from 1991 to today, 44 per cent of the total has been in the last five years, highlighting the dramatic growth that the brand has seen in recent years. As MotorMartin has consistently pointed out, consumers have been attracted to the brand for its styling, quality and reliability as well as that industry-topping seven year warranty.
Commenting on Kia’s 25th UK anniversary, Paul Philpott, President and CEO, Kia Motors (UK) Ltd, shared with MotorMartin that: “Kia has been on quite a journey in recent years. Within Kia’s time in the UK we have grown from a relatively small importer to challenging the best and most established brands in the industry.”
“We have a fantastic, ever growing, range of cars and in 2016 and 2017 we will launch fourteen new and face-lifted cars. Kia are certainly not resting on its laurels for the next 25 years as we expand our sales and dealer network in the UK.”
Kia have regularly been at the forefront of both innovation and style over the last few years and have created some stunning cars in that time, perhaps sometimes overlooked, is the design standards set by the Picanto, the Pride’s replacement. This was the first car in the A-segment to offer a five-door model and launched a successful and quirky animated advert asking consumers to ‘Think about it’, something that consumers have taken to heart. The Picanto is the biggest selling Kia in the UK since its introduction in 2004 with over 156,000 sold to date.
The Sportage, now in its fourth generation, has sold close to 140,000 and is Kia’s second best-selling model with 16,000 of those being sold since the new model launch in February and MotorMartin fully understands why after spending a very enjoyable week with a 1.7 CRDi Sportage just last month.
Kia have explained to MotorMartin that, although they have been in the UK for just 25 years, Kia is still a company of firsts. From the five-door Picanto, through to dancing hamsters advertising for the Soul as well as being the first manufacturer to utilise the independent review company Reevoo so that customer can give unedited, uncensored feedback about its models and its dealerships – with over 20,000 reviews, 97 per cent of customers would chose Kia again. That’s a fantastic result.
Kia Motors Corporation is considerably older than its UK subsidiary being established in 1944. With its origins of manufacturing bicycles in South Korea, Kia has grown to be part of the 5th largest automotive group in the world and is present in over 170 countries.
It’s quite clear that Kia has been so successful due to its products. The current mix of style, and technology is winning new fans every day and the incredible percentage of positive feedback throughout over 20,000 reviews is proof of the reliability and practical ‘real life’ qualities that MotorMartin is here to celebrate.
Where will you go?