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Kia Rondo should be more popular this time around

Help me Rondo: Kia’s Rondo has arrived in Australia ahead of the rival Opel Zafira Tourer, which launches locally mid-year.

More stylish new-gen Kia Rio to seduce potential small SUV buyers


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6 Jun 2013

KIA Australia believes the people mover market in Australia will grow beyond its miniscule 0.8 per cent share of overall local sales this year.

The South Korean car-maker launched its all-new seven-seat Rondo this week, and predicted an increase in sales over the slow-selling model it replaces.

That vehicle was the lowest-selling passenger vehicle in the Kia stable last year, with only 290 units shifted. This is despite similarly sized tallboy SUVs selling in record numbers across the board.

But Kia Australia general manager of public relations Kevin Hepworth said the new Rondo could lead a turn around for the segment, attracting those who may avoid dowdier traditional family haulers in favour of high-riding SUVs “The outgoing Rondo was a very slow burner,” he said. “People that had it loved it, but getting people into the car was a real problem.

“This (new) car is a different story entirely. It’s not an unattractive car, it is quite stylish. It’s not an admission to the world that you need a people mover.”

Mr Hepworth said part of the reason for this is that the Rondo will not be marketed as a vehicle from a particular segment such as people mover or SUV, but something with a little of both.

“I think there is too much emphasis given to segments. People don’t shop segments. They shop what they need. Whatever you call it, it still has the same characteristics, so people will shop for those characteristics,” he said.

While Kia won’t discuss sales targets for the Rondo, Mr Hepworth said he expects the Rondo to be more successful for the brand this time around.

“People are coming from looking at other cars and not quite finding what they want in any individual vehicle. The segment will grow because there are other models coming into it too.” These other vehicles include the recently-launched Fiat Freemont, Peugeot’s take on the Citroen C4 Picasso, the 5008 and Opel’s stylish Zafira Tourer that returns to the local market mid-year after it was sold as a Holden between 2001 and 2005.

The arrival of more competitors doesn’t faze Mr Hepworth who also believes that the little Rondo will not eat into sales of its other hugely successful people mover, the Carnival.

“There maybe people who have had a need for a Carnival in the past and now, for whatever reason don’t.

“But I think it will be more the other way, people coming out of SUVs. Where they have looked for a seven-seat SUV but didn’t want a particularly big car like that. Now they have an option to look somewhere else.”

Kia said that the anticipated volume of the Rondo meant that they didn’t see the need for a diesel version of the top-spec Platinum, but Mr Hepworth said that the local arm of the Korean car-maker will look into it in the future if required.

“There are a couple of options. It will certainly be looked at but it may not be Platinum diesel, it may be an SLi diesel with sat-nav or an SLi accessory option if you want to order it as a build. There’s lots of different ways to approach it but certainly the feedback is being taken on board.”

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