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Kia sales growth to stabilise in 2018

Soulless: Kia is considering dropping the Rondo and Soul (left) in Australia after they both failed to catch on with buyers.

Sales momentum to slow this year, but Kia not aiming to overtake Holden

20 Apr 2018

KIA’S rapid sales growth in Australia in recent years will settle down in 2018 as the car-maker prepares for more new model lines in two-to-three years and considers shedding some under-performing models.

The Korean brand’s Australian sales have jumped by 95 per cent from the 28,005 units it sold in 2014 to a record 54,737 last year, which was enough to implant Kia into the top 10 best-selling manufacturers.

Kia’s 2017 result was a 28.3 per cent lift over 2016, and to the end of March this year it has sold 14,279 vehicles, representing a 10.9 per cent increase over the first three months of 2017.

When asked by GoAuto if Kia’s dramatic sales growth would settle down in the next couple of years, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said that was “correct”, but predicted further growth in the following years on the back of new product.

“And then we believe once we get a small SUV and then hopefully a light-commercial range, we will probably be that 85-90,000 player,” he said.

“We probably think we will be an eight-and-a-half per cent (market share) player.”

As reported in November last year, Kia is expected to add a pick-up to its line-up in about 2021 which will likely share its underpinnings with a similar offering from sister brand Hyundai.

“We are hopeful that something will happen with the LCV range in a few year’s time,” he said in Melbourne this week. “There is still a bit of homework being done at head office regarding it, but we would like to think it will happen. We will be ready when it does.”

A small SUV is also likely to fill a gap under the Sportage in its line-up, and while Kia sells a number of compact crossovers in different markets, it is expected that a production version of the SP concept revealed in India in February could end up Down Under.

Kia is part of a four-way battle in the sales charts, with year-to-date sales figures revealing that ninth-placed Kia (14,279) is within striking distance of Honda (eighth – 15,129), Holden (seventh – 15,524) and a resurgent Nissan (sixth – 15,761).

Mr Meredith expressed sadness over the closure of automotive manufacturing in Australia, and suggested that it was not a priority to overtake Holden in the sales charts.

“Will we beat them? February I think they beat us by 24 cars and last month they beat us by 43 cars.

“We are not driven by being number six or seven, eight, nine or 10. We are driven by getting better, growing our business, being profitable at a dealer level and profitable at our level, and continuing to improve our customer satisfaction. It’s no different to other manufacturers, just some do it better than others. That’s what drives us.”

While most of Kia’s model lines are in positive sales territory this year, its two slowest sellers – the boxy Soul and Rondo tall-boy hatch – appear to be on the chopping block.

When asked about the future of the pair, Mr Meredith said: “A final decision is not made, but if we did make a decision on them it would probably be at year’s end.”

So far this year, just 92 Souls and 35 Rondos have found homes and both models have failed to fire in Australia despite success in other markets, specifically the United States where the Soul is the second best-selling model in Kia’s line-up.

If the two models are dropped it is unlikely to have any impact on Kia’s annual sales.

Kia has a busy second half coming up, with the updated Carnival people-mover arriving next month, the lightly updated Optima in the second quarter and a facelifted Sportage SUV expected before the end of the year.

A new Cerato sedan will lob in June while the hatchback version will go on sale before year’s end.

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