The key word at Kia meeting was 'more'
ORLANDO -- Kia told a full house of dealers that more models, more advertising and more sales and service business are headed their way in the coming years.
Tom Loveless, Kia Motors America executive vice president of sales, encouraged the audience of nearly 200 to begin making plans to expand.
"The industry is on its way to the level of 16 million sales," Loveless said. "I'm talking about retail preparedness."
He urged the dealers to take a "longer-term view" of Kia's growth plans.
Kia has seven new or significantly restyled models coming this year, including the full-sized Cadenza sedan that reaches the market in the third quarter, and the redesigned Sorento, which began arriving in dealerships this month.
Loveless said that this year the company expects to increase its U.S. market share, which was 3.8 percent in 2012.
"You can do the math," he commented after the meeting. "We're forecasting industry sales of 15.3 million for this year -- even if we remain flat in market share, that's still a lot more business."
Kia dealers sold 557,599 vehicles last year, up 15 percent from 2011. The industry rose 13 percent to 14.5 million vehicles.
Loveless and the half-dozen other Kia Motors America executives at the meeting did not reveal specific marketing plans but they said Kia is committed to keeping up the brand's marketing voice.
"They told us that more funds will be allocated to do whatever we need to do," said Mark Scarpelli, owner of Raymond Auto Group of Antioch, Ill. "They're saying that they really have a full plate, and they acknowledge that it's going to be a challenge. But they're committed to do whatever they have to do."
The company asked dealers to seek opportunities to increase throughput, said Louisville, Ky., dealer Don Hobden, this year's chairman of Kia's dealer advisory board.
"They want us to be ready for what's coming," says Hobden, executive manager of six Kia dealerships in Kentucky, Alabama and Indiana. "That means parts and service, online sales, Internet lead processing -- whatever the case may be."
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