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Kia’s future: sporty and youthful
It’s been eight years since the re-introduction of the Kia brand to the Canadian market.
And although “value” or “Hyundai-clone” most often come to mind when thinking of the current lineup, the Korean auto maker wants you to (soon) add “quality” and “desirability” to your Kia vernacular.
According to Jay Chung, President and CEO of Kia Canada, the auto maker is right on target on the quality front.
In a recent J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey, Kia vehicles ranked sixth in non-premium nameplates, and rose to 12th place, from 24th overall.
The reward has been month-to-month sales records in Canada. Where industry sales are growing at 5 per cent, Kia’s at 10 per cent.
But as the president of Kia America, Len Hunt, said recently of the brand’s lack of emotion, “Nobody gets up in the morning shouting, `Kia! Kia! Kia!'”
As parent Hyundai brand strives to become more luxury-oriented, Kia’s mission with its future products is to become more sporty and youth oriented.
In the short term, that means an XR performance sub-brand (like Chrysler SRT cars or Chevrolet SS models) is planned to be unveiled.
At the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, Kia unveiled the Soul, a subcompact, four-door crossover concept, similar in size to Honda’s Fit. Reports say the Korean auto maker is ready to put the production version on sale in 2008.
The Soul continued the look of the Kia Mesa KCD II full-size SUV concept that debuted a year earlier in Detroit.
Like the current mid-size Sorrento, the Mesa is a true body-on-frame SUV. In production form, it should seat seven and get the 3.8 L gas-powered V6 that just debuted in the ’08 Sorrento. Speculation is we will also see a final version at Detroit.
And if Kia can do a full-size SUV, why not a pickup, too?
Kia Motors president Cho Nam-hong fuelled the speculation when he was recently quoted as saying, “Isn’t it time for Kia Motors to make inroads into the [U.S.] pickup truck market?”
Long term, Kia is counting on ex-Volkswagen designer Peter Schreyer to not only create a new, and unique look, but also one that moves the brand from bland to spicy.
Since coming to Kia in ’06, Schreyer’s first major concept vehicle for the Korean auto maker was the Kue, shown at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Compared to today’s Sorrento, the Kue concentrates more on driving dynamics and performance.
Shreyer’s team followed that up with a second CUV concept, the KND-4, at the Seoul auto show in April. Conjecture at the show was that KND-4 might be a styling signal for the next generation Sportage.
In between, the Kia ex_cee’d convertible concept debuted at the Geneva auto show in March. Based on the European-market only cee’d compact, the convertible version would go up against the likes of VW’s Eos.
“Kia’ and `Volkswagen’ in the same sentence? If the Korean company stays on track, we’d better get use to that. [Source: Wheels.ca ]