A staff member cleans a new SUV Sportage car at South Korean
Frankfurt - AFP
South Korean carmaker Kia, a unit of Hyundai, expects to see record sales in Europe this year, helping to make up for a drop in sales in China, its European chief said Tuesday.
"We hope to close (with an increase of) nine percent," Kia Motor Europe's chief operating officer, Michael Cole, told AFP in an interview on the sidelines of the IAA motor show.
The company was targeting European sales of 385,000 vehicles this year, up from 354,000 in 2014, Cole said.
"That will be our seventh consecutive year of growth in the Western Europe region," he continued.
Kia Motors Europe covers the 28 countries of the European Union.
And the strong performance in the region is all the more welcome in face of the strong won and falling sales in China, which plunged by 33 percent in July and 45 percent in August, Cole said.
"We all know China is pretty tough. It experienced two very difficult months. It's a challenge for us as for all automotive brands," he said.
But Kia was confident because of the tailwind from its strong performance in the United States and in Europe, he said.
"My personal view is the market in Western Europe will finish up between six and eight percent. We in that market will be stronger," Cole said.
At the IAA, which opened its doors to the media on Tuesday and will be open to the general public from Saturday, Kia is hoping to woo customers with a new version of its Sportage crossover, scheduled to go on sale at the beginning of next year.
It was the car "that has helped change the reception of the brand, more than any other," Cole said.
The sports utility vehicle, or SUV, is a rival to Volkswagen's new Tiguan.
Cole said Kia expects to sell a record 100,000 of the old version of Sportage this year, but gave not sales target for 2016.