- Picanto set to achieve 54,000 sales in Europe in just 8 months!
- Cheeky-looking, fun-to-drive hatchback is runaway success
(SEOUL) December 13, 2004 -- Kia’s all-new A-segment Picanto has taken European markets by storm in 2004. Sales of this model are expected to reach 54,000 by year-end, just eight months after the model’s launch, as increasing numbers of customers find the cheeky-looking, fun-to-drive, five-door hatchback, and its extremely competitive value-for-money ownership packages -- irresistible.
Designed and engineered with European customers’ needs and preferences in mind, the 3.49-meter long Picanto brings five-door practicality to the A-segment market and is capable of seating four adults, or a family of five in comfort. The roomy interior offers best-in-class legroom and headroom and is also bright, colorful and stylishly ‘European.’
The Picanto delivers a winning combination of lively performance (up to 154 kph), class-leading CO2 figures -- as low as 118g/km -- and great fuel economy -- from 4.9 liters per 100 km. Next year an all-new diesel will join the current gasoline engines, boasting high power and torque, while retaining low emissions -- Kia’s CO2 target for this engine is just 113 g/km.
Active safety features include excellent visibility, agile handling, responsive steering plus a highly effective all-disc braking system with ABS (as standard) which brings the car to a complete stop from 100 kph in only 41.3 meters -- beating many rivals. Front and side airbags are available for optimum safety protection and the Picanto has a 4-Star EuroNCAP rating for child protection.
The undoubted showroom appeal of the Picanto to its target customer groups, young singles and young families, has been endorsed by media road tests published all across Europe. Kia’s 2004 newcomer has won group tests conducted by major publications in seven countries against well established rivals such as the Panda, Twingo, Cuore, Alto, Matiz, Smart, Agila, and Arosa.
Innovative purchasing packages available from launch, plus creative advertising attracted unprecedented numbers of consumers to Kia showrooms where the Picanto’s strong showroom appeal enabled dealers to convert an unusually high percentage of inquiries into firm sales.
Marketing ventures have been many and varied to suit the individual markets across Europe. In Italy, the biggest market for the Picanto so far, Kia has offered models with several extra-cost options fitted as standard, while catering for specific needs of some Italian motorists with an introductory €49-per-month leasing rate. In Spain the range is competitively priced and generous trade-in prices are available on old cars destined for scrap. In Denmark and Switzerland and many other markets zero or low percent finance was available, while in France six-months free insurance was offered during the launch period.
For the UK, Kia expanded its ‘drive away a new car for just ￡1 deposit’ campaign to include the new small model. In Sweden, an exciting advertising campaign alerted the public to Kia’s newcomer and good availability of test cars for media ensured that more than 100 road tests were published during the launch period.
In Scotland, where motorists are renowned for their keen appreciation of good value, the Picanto won the ‘Scottish Small Car of the Year’ award -- an accolade that has been echoed in Iceland. In the UK, where more than 6,500 Picantos have been sold, Kia won the ‘Car Ad of the Year’ at the Autocar Awards for its ground-breaking animated TV advertisement with the ‘think about it...’ theme. This ad successfully challenged women aged 20-to-30 to buy a convenient five-door car for ￡5,495 rather than a ￡6,000 three-door model from more famous brands, and has resulted in major increases in Kia showroom traffic.
“Earlier this year we certainly had high hopes for our first-ever entry-level A-Segment model in Europe, but its runaway success across Europe has exceeded many expectations,” commented Jean Charles Lievens, Vice President Kia Motors Europe. “We knew the Picanto was a very European-style car, we knew we could bring it to the market place at a good price and it has been exceptionally well received.
“The Picanto’s success proves once more that Kia Motors Corporation has invested wisely in global R&D and creative design and in ensuring excellent assembly quality at the Donghee Auto plant in Korea, together with built-in product reliability. The improved quality of Kia products is endorsed by the influential J.D. Power & Associates declaring Kia to be the ‘most improved brand' -- in terms of quality -- over the past two years,” concludes Lievens.
The Picanto gives Kia an entry-level model to attract new types of customer and begin the crucial task of creating loyalty to the brand and its expanding dealer network. As anticipated, most of the early buyers of the Picanto were new to the Kia brand, or they are buying their second Kia for other family members.
Kia’s incredible 128% hike in November sales across Europe included more than 9,345 Picantos and pushed Kia’s year-to-date sales for 11 months to 161,598 units. This cumulative total was 46% higher than sales over the same period last year -- maintaining Kia’s position as Europe’s fastest growing automotive brand.
The countries where the Picanto has become hugely popular in the 7 months since its launch include: Italy (8,539 sales through the end of November), Germany (7,075), Spain (7,058), the UK (6,665), Netherlands (4,131), France (3,424) and Greece (2,910). Although the Picanto has not been available all year, it has already claimed the number one best-seller’s position in the A-segment in several countries.
Founded in 1944 and now celebrating its 60th anniversary, Kia Motors Corporation (www.kiamotors.com) is Korea’s oldest manufacturer of automobiles. As part of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Kia is among the world’s fastest growing automobile companies and aims to be a leading global automaker. Kia’s 15 manufacturing and assembly operations in 12 countries make more than a million vehicles a year that are sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering 190 countries. Kia today has 30,000 employees and annual revenues of $12 billion. It is the major sponsor of the Australian Tennis Open and an international sponsor of the Davis Cup.