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Kia’s slow sellers to survive – for now

Help me Rondo: Kia sold 388 examples of the Rondo people-mover in Australia in 2014, but the car-maker is set to give it a marketing boost this year.

Slow-selling Rondo and Soul to get marketing push, Pro_Cee'd GT set for auto upgrade

23 Feb 2015

DESPITE lacklustre sales performances over the last twelve months, Kia Australia will stick with two of its slowest-selling products, the Rondo people-mover and the boxy Soul hatch.

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) chief operating officer Damien Meredith acknowledged that both cars need to perform better, and that plans were in place to ensure their growth.

“I would love the Soul to have been as successful (locally) as it has been in North America, but that wasn't the case,” said Mr Meredith.

“I'm not quite sure that we spent enough marketing dollars on it to get it out there. It's different. We want to keep it and we want to develop it and we want to ensure that it sells and pay for its own way in the future. No doubt, the numbers have been disappointing but we're going to fix that.

“I'm not quite sure we'll call the Australian Open the Kia Soul Australian Open but we're going to think about those things and how we place the vehicle.”

Kia shifted just 259 units of the Soul in 2014, despite the launch of a second-generation car in February last year. It is only available in a single variant – a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol-powered front driver that sells for $24,490, before on-road costs, in manual guise.

The Rondo, meanwhile, fared little better in the sales race, posting just 388 sales. Regarded internally as a compact people-mover, it has only recently seen additional competitor activity join its space with the release of more premium offerings such as BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer range as well as the new Citroen C4 Picasso.

The Rondo starts at $30,240, before on-road costs for the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol Si variant.

“Rondo is, again, in a very small segment,” said Mr Meredith. “It's a great car. Again, very similar to Soul, we're going to spend a little bit more money on it. We believe that, with the launch of the new Carnival, we'll get a bit of push-forward with Rondo.

“Saying that, we're putting things into place with Rondo in regards to spending a little bit more on it, being a little bit more targeted with its marketing and communication. Again, though, it has to stand on its own two feet.”

He was adamant that both cars would get a fair go. “They're both in our stable of vehicles, and we want to make sure that they reach their potential.”

Meanwhile, Mr Meredith told GoAuto that the Pro_Cee'd GT sports hatch is likely to be one beneficiary of the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission recently developed by Kia, but no timelines had yet been set for its introduction.

“We’ve requested it. It would be great if it gets it, “ he said.

Last year, 381 examples of the Pro_Cee'd GT found homes in Australia. The Korean car-maker's local arm has previously admitted that the lack of a self-shifter has impacted sales of the three-door hot hatch.

“There is no question that the absence of an automatic in the Pro_cee’d GT is limiting sales in Australia,” (KMAu) media and corporate communications general manager Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto at last year's Paris motor show.

“The availability of the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in that car would produce an immediate and significant bump in sales.”

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