Kia’s UK operation is trying to advance shipments of cars from South Korea after 1,300 vehicles were lost last Sunday in a collision near Singapore between their car carrier and a tanker.

Kia UK, whose sales were up 61% up for the year so far to the end of April said the accident was unlikely to make a major impact on its forecast performance.

But spokesman Paul Carter, admitted that losing a selection of Rio, Sorento, Carens and Sedona models, plus 400 units of the recently launched Picanto supermini, would mean having to bring forward supplies for the September registration peak.

“With our cars very much in demand it is obviously not helpful and we will do all we can to minimise any waiting lists. But customers should know that they will not find empty showrooms because of the collision.

“We are working to bring forward schedules for ships due to dock at Sheerness in Kent over the next few months. This shipment was not due to arrive until late June so they would not be on sale until August and September. It is a case of protecting the orders we have and providing sufficient stock for the September rush.”

Around 4,000 Kias, now at the bottom of the South China Sea, were bound for Europe on board the MV Hyundai 105, built and operated by Kia’s parent company Hyundai.

Kia had already built up launch stocks for the new five-door Picanto, which was launched at the British motor show this week. The company hopes to sell 6,000 this year, and 10,000 in 2005.

Carter said: “The loss involved five different models so it is better relatively than a concentration on one or two high-demand vehicles. The fact that they were not that far out from Korea means the majority was not yet allocated to dealers and in the supply pipeline.”