Kia dealers expect 100,000 more units
LAS VEGAS -- Kia pledged to get its U.S. dealers 100,000 more units this year than last year to keep up the brand's momentum.
"It's a work in progress, but that's our goal," said Tom Loveless, vice president of sales for Kia Motors America.
An extra 100,000 sales would be about a 20 percent gain for Kia in 2012. The brand sold 485,492 vehicles in 2011, up 36 percent over the previous year.
Kia dealers have faced tight supplies for months because high global demand has strained the automaker's production capacity. Loveless said some of the additional volume will come from Kia's plant in West Point, Ga. The automaker invested $100 million last year to expand production capacity to 360,000 units a year, from 300,000.
Mark Scarpelli, president of Raymond Kia in the Chicago suburb of Antioch, Ill., and moderator of the make meeting, said a softening European market could free up cars as the year progresses.
"What they're trying to do is get production from Europe, Asia -- some of those markets where things have slowed or where they have some issues," Scarpelli said.
Kia has no major launches this year. In 2013, a large sedan sold overseas as the Cadenza or K7, plus a redesigned Sorento, will debut in the United States, dealers said after the meeting.
Emilio Redondo, a Kia dealer near Atlanta, said executives told dealers that the brand will launch nine new vehicles over the next three years.
"The product line is full, and I'm very optimistic about things staying the way they are because they've been dynamite so far," Redondo said.
Loveless said about 110 Kia dealers will complete store construction under the voluntary Kia Gallery facility program.
"I see that growing over time as dealers' earnings grow," Loveless said. "We don't have any edicts or goals or objectives or anything."
Loveless said he wants dealers to build Gallery stores "when it makes sense." He also said the dealers are encouraged to make smaller-scale store improvements.
• Product blitz starts in 2013.
• Dealers encouraged to invest in improved showrooms, and, where it makes sense, image stores.
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