ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kia dealers were told at the make meeting that they will get a small minivan based on the Multi/S concept shown at the Chicago Auto Show.
That vehicle could reach dealers by the end of the year, a Kia Motors America source said.
The product decision was part of a barrage of good news at the meeting. Most immediately important to dealers' pocketbooks was a dealer incentive program that will replace the Circle of Excellence plan, which expires March 31.
Circle of Excellence paid dealers $300 per car sold to build an exclusive Kia facility. The new plan is based on sales targets and customer service scores and will pay incentives on a sliding scale, up to $300 per unit.
Exclusive dealers have a shot at the whole payout. But dealers who are dualed, or who share service facilities with another brand, also can get a percentage of that potential payout, said Len Hunt, COO of Kia Motors America.
"Fifty percent of our dealers are exclusives, which we achieved before the natural economics of the franchise would dictate," Hunt said. "Now we need to concentrate on pay for performance, and this program still recognizes the dealers who stepped up and made that commitment to the franchise."
Hunt also informed dealers of a flattening of the field organization. No longer will Kia have a vice president of sales. Instead, the field staff will report directly to Hunt.
Phil Kelley, who held the sales job, will take the role of director of the central region. Jim Reilly, who formerly oversaw the central region, has left the company.
Benny Yount, chairman of the dealer council, applauded the move.
"The biggest challenge has been communication with the factory," said Yount, who is president of Paramount Kia in Hickory, N.C. "Len is making a strong effort to communicate with the dealers."
The combination of the new vehicle and programs has dealers confident about the future, on top of a record 2005 when Kia sold 275,851 units.
"We're shooting for 500,000 units in 2010," said Carl Rossman, dealer principal of Hi Desert Kia in Vacaville, Calif. "I think we can do it."
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]