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Kia Australia plans to double sales

Style leader: Kia’s new Cerato will be crucial to the company’s 5.0 per cent market-share target in Australia.

Fast-growing Kia hopes to maintain momentum with new models, including Cerato

Market Insight logo21 Jan 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

KIA Motors Australia president and CEO Charlie Kim has set his sights on five per cent market share in Australia – almost double the South Korean marque’s record 2.8 per cent share last year.

Kia sales soared 22.4 per cent to a company-best 30,758 vehicles in Australia last year, making it one of the fastest-growing car brands in the land.

A 5.0 per cent share in 2012’s 1.1 million market would have required sales of about 55,000 vehicles – 79 per cent higher than Kia’s tally last year.

At that level, Kia would have pipped another high-flying importer, Volkswagen, which increased its sales by more than 22 per cent last year to rack up 54,335 vehicles for a 4.9 per cent market share.

Speaking in Melbourne where Kia Motors Corporation is sponsoring the Australian Tennis Open, Mr Kim noted the number of ‘fives’ in Kia’s orbit lately – five-year warranty, five-year capped-service pricing and new five-year sponsorship extension for the Australian Open.

He said he would add another ‘five’ to that – 5.0 per cent market share.

128 center imageLeft: Kia Motors Australia president and CEO Charlie Kim.

Mr Kim stopped short of specifying a target date for the goal, which appears to have been set by head office in Korea.

Kia is expecting a sales boost this year with the arrival of an all-new Cerato small car, starting with the sedan in April and the five-door hatch about July.

A fresh Rondo compact people-mover is also in the wings for an April-May kick-off, this time almost certainly with a 1.7-litre diesel engine alternative powertrain in the range alongside a 130kW direct-injected petrol four-cylinder engine.

The seven-seat Rondo is loosely based on the Cerato platform that also underpins the Hyundai i30, but is 4.5 metres long with three rows of seats.

Despite its age, the current Cerato is Kia’s second-biggest seller in Australia, attracting 7881 customers to the brand in 2012, just behind the newer Rio’s 7915.

Rondo sales have trailed off substantially over the past year, down 33 per cent to just 290 units last year, but with new styling and better engines, Kia has higher hopes for the most affordable seven-seat family bus on the market.

Kia’s bigger Carnival dominates the Australian people-mover segment, achieving 3676 sales last year for a 34.6 segment share, about double the share of its closest rival, the iMax from Kia’s partner company, Hyundai.

Apart from Cerato and Rondo, a facelifted Optima is expected late in the year, building on the whopping 173 per cent growth for that mid-sized car in 2012.

A new Cerato-based Kia Koup is also in the pipeline, along with a “a couple of surprises”.

Globally, Kia Motors Corporation announced last week that it sold a record 2.71 million vehicles in 2012, which represented a 9.3 per cent increase on the previous year and marked the first time the company had ever cracked 2.7 million units.

Despite tough trading conditions in Europe, Kia posted an impressive 19.5 per cent sales increase in Europe (571,033 units), along with a 15.4 per cent increase in North America (635,399), 11 per cent rise in China (512,167) and, in other markets collectively, a 2.7 per cent increase with 509,358 units.

The company posted sales of 482,060 vehicles in its Korean home market, down 2.2 per cent on the previous year.

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