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Kia Australia wants light commercials

Load up: Kia’s Pregio van helped to establish Kia in Australia, and local executives would like to re-establish that presence in LCVs.

Ute range a must for global growth, says Kia Australia boss

22 Apr 2016

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) would be a stronger performer in the local market if it returned to the light commercial vehicle segment, the brand’s chief operating officer Damien Meredith has revealed.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Picanto micro car in Canberra this week, Mr Meredith said returning Kia to a segment in which it once offered both the Pregio compact van and K2700/K2900 truck would be highly desirable.

“If a commercial range became available we would be first in line to put our hand up,” he said. “However, obviously we also want it to be five-star (ANCAP rated) and we want it to comply with CO2 (emissions).” Neither the Pregio, a HiAce competitor sold between 2002 and 2006, nor the K2700/K2900 offered between 2002 and 2012 but still available overseas, meet the stringent requirements to be sold in Australia.

“We’re saying all the time that if we get a light commercial range you are going to see quite a significant jump in our presence and our volume,” Mr Meredith added.

Asked if he is aware of Kia planning a light commercial range beyond the current K-series truck, Mr Meredith responded: “Not at the moment, but when it does we’ll be first in line.” “I’d love to have a range of light commercials and competing with everyone who competes in that segment.” Kia’s corporate rival Hyundai has expressed interest in creating a ute, a concept previewed by the Santa Cruz show car unveiled at the 2015 Detroit auto show.

Mr Meredith, a former Hyundai Australia director of sales between 2009 and 2014, said he is unaware of plans for a production ute at its in-house rival brand however, he believes the Hyundai/Kia motor group must enter the segment to achieve global growth longer term.

“It’s been two years since I left Hyundai, so I’m not quite sure what they’re up to, but I think the group needs to look at a light commercial range to keep growing globally”.

While the two south Korean car-makers jostle to get on the local ute ladder, other key brands are already climbing the rungs.

Behind the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton leaders, relative newcomers Volkswagen Amarok and Isuzu D-Max continue to gather pace, while Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Jeep have all confirmed they will also enter the segment.

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