KIA is looking to double its sales in Europe from 260,000 to half a million by the middle of the decade on the back of its new generation of small cars, the Picanto and Rio.

Benny Oeyen, vice president marketing and product planning Kia Motors Europe, said that sales were held back by a shortage in supply, particularly the popular Sportage SUV. “This year we hope to be somewhere north of 290,000, more if we have the supply of vehicles from South Korea. We are very pleased with this performance given that it is a very tough market, particularly in Southern Europe in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece.

“Market share last year was 1.9%  and we are looking to grow to 2.5% with a mid-term target of achieving half a million sales by the middle of the decade if the market gets back to around 15m.”

Central to this growth plan is the arrival this year of the all new Picanto in the A segment and the B segment Rio which is being rolled out across Europe from September.

Oeyen added: “Later this year we still have the Optima to come in the D segment and the next generation CEED will be launched in 2012 so we are having an extremely busy time of it – it really has been rapid fire in terms of launches.”

Rio is particularly important to the brand because the previous generation represented the last of the ‘old Kia’ models, more basic value for money. Oeyen said: “The new car almost skips two generations in terms of its design and technology with improved interiors, powertrains, equipment, fuel economy and emissions.

“Kia is a really exciting place to be right now, We are confident that we can succeed even in a difficult market because we have such good product.”

Old Rio sold around 16-17,000 cars annually at its peak and with the new model Kia is looking at between 80-90,000 a year in Europe in what is a very competitive segment.