Kia proudly celebrates its 30th year of sales in the UK today, having flourished from a single-model debut in 1991 to enjoying its highest ever market share today as Kia UK Limited.
Kia marked the occasion with a photoshoot of its most important historic models on the banking at the historic Brooklands motor racing circuit. The banking is less than 300 metres from Kia UK’s previous headquarters, first established when the business became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kia Corporation in 2002. Kia UK Limited is currently headquartered in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.
Kia’s 30-year history in the UK began in 1991 with the launch of the Kia Pride, imported by MCL Group and accounting for just 1,786 sales that year. The following three decades have seen the brand introduce successive generations of models across a wide range of vehicle segments. Highlights include four generations of Kia’s UK best-seller, the Sportage, as well the Ceed model family, small cars such as the Picanto and Rio, the Sorento large SUV, and even a high-performance fastback saloon, the Stinger.
In recent years Kia has also launched a range of advanced electrified vehicles, including the fully electric e-Niro and two generations of the zero-emissions Soul EV.
Since 1991, Kia has now sold a total of more than 1.2 million cars in the UK – and two thirds of these have been sold in only the last 10 years. Kia is also now the most popular it has ever been among UK customers, with a five per cent share of the new car market so far this year.
The image of the Kia brand has also developed significantly over this time, underpinned by relentless improvements in quality and reliability, design, and driver engagement. Since 2010, every model sold by Kia in the UK has offered a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, providing reliability and reassurance to customers. The brand’s design-led approach to product development has been led by Peter Schreyer through the brand’s global design network. This has also been matched by an accelerated focus on powertrain development and driving dynamics, ensuring Kia vehicles are as good to drive as they are to own and to look at.
Paul Philpott, President & CEO of Kia UK Limited, commented: “It’s incredible to look at the rate of progress we have enjoyed over the last three decades, both in terms of what our cars now offer drivers and how perceptions of our brand have changed. This success is testament not just to the products and services we offer, but also, importantly, thanks to the dedication and determination of our dealer partners, who tirelessly represent us so well to a growing number of customers up and down the country.
“2021 provides an ideal moment for us to see where we’ve come from, but also to look forward to where we’re heading,” added Philpott. “Our product line-up is increasingly populated with hybrid and electric vehicles, and we’re embarking on an ambitious strategy to launch a range of dedicated new EVs over the next five years. The first of these will be the Kia EV6, which arrives in UK showrooms later this year. Kia’s presence in the UK in 1991 is almost unrecognisable today, and our long-term strategy will mean we continue to evolve and adapt in line with the changing needs of British customers over the next 30 years.”
Kia announced its ambitious global ‘Plan S’ strategy in January 2020, establishing a mid- to long-term strategy based around three key pillars:
Kia also revealed its new logo and ‘Movement that inspires’ brand identity at the start of 2021. The first models to feature the new logo will arrive in the UK later this year.
Today, Kia is supported by an established network of 192 dealers and 11 authorised repairers across the UK, offering the full range of Kia vehicles, services, and aftersales support.