kia soulster concept 4 Edited
kia soulster concept 4 Edited

Confident Kia puts dibs on ute

It could be Kia not Hyundai that delivers Australia’s first Korean made ute.

Kia Australia boss Damien Meredith still has faith in passenger cars, despite the SUV onslaught.  

But, speaking this week, he confided that he’d still like a small SUV to sell — and a ute.

Already a top 10 player, Kia Australia is looking at a 12-15 per cent sales boost this year, to take the Korean brand to 60,000-plus, according to the candid but always measured Meredith.

Last year Kia sold 54,737 vehicles, for a record 4.6 per cent share.

And five years from now?

“It depends on two things. One is when we get a small SUV, and two, if and when a light commercial range joins our model line up,”  Meredith said, checking on his wish list.

“If they both happen, we’re looking at 85,000 to 90,000 units.”

While a small SUV — a close relation of big-brother Hyundai’s Kona – is anticipated late next year, the light commercial plans are hardly firm.

An iLoad-type van would be nice, but strongest rumours surround the possibility of a Kia dual-cab ute in 2021-22.

“A small SUV is a very important segment. But we have to protect our existing passenger sales rather than do business with ourselves,” he said.

Meredith says there is lots of evidence of small SUVs “substituting” same-brand passenger cars.

Kia’s current passenger car range, at the price sensitive end of the market, covers the micro, light and small segments — with Picanto, Rio and Cerato, all of which are doing well.

“SUV demand is strong but we still have great faith in the passenger car market. Even if the micro/light/small segments drop to 250,000 in a few year’s time, it’s still good,” he said.

“Consumers are becoming increasing more demanding of car brands, and retention is going to be more important for us and the wider industry.

“There will be greater emphasis on how we look after the customer and our seven-year warranty is a strong foundation.”

With Kia into the fourth year of its well-received seven-year warranty, Meredith admits he is surprised other makers haven’t followed suit in offering such an attractive warranty.

Meredith has also reiterated Kia (and Hyundai’s) commitment to electric cars.  

“Our view is that in the medium terms, that’s the way to go — and without asking for government subsidies.”

“We’ll have a few EVs in three year’s time,” he confirmed.

“They won’t sell in their thousands straight away but we believe there’s potential.”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *