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Arrival of Kia Cee’d hinges on Europe

Golf beater: Kia is constrained by production limitations for the Cee'd.

Kia Australia chief rules out hot new small car in short term

1 Feb 2007

AUSTRALIA is unlikely to get the all-new Kia Cee’d small car for at least three years.

Billed as the car that redefines the Kia brand because of its European design and build, Cee’d was expected to come here within a year.

However, Kia has a worldwide production capacity problem that is causing the Australian division headaches.

Cee’d was designed specifically for Europe and is being built exclusively at a new plant in Slovakia with an eventual capacity of 300,000 units (which will include a Sportage line from the middle of this year).

Its availability for Australia will be determined by its success in Europe, according to Kia Australia sales and marketing boss Bill Gillespie.

"Sadly, I think it will go very well," Mr Gillespie said.

"There’s only a certain amount of production capacity and we need to get into that production capacity. But, even if we said we wanted 200 or 300 a month, we would hardly have a huge voice there.

"But we are hugely keen to have it here. Even if we didn’t sell a lot of them, it says so much about Kia as a brand and where it is going.

"It’s a massive brand stretch. You wouldn’t believe that car came from a Korean manufacturer."

17 center imageMr Gillespie dismissed speculation that Cee’d would come here next year and was also dubious about its prospects for 2009.

If and when Cee’d does come to Australia, it will be priced considerably higher than the existing Cerato small car, which would continue alongside Cee’d as a price-leader under $20,000 (as Holden did with the Astra and Astra Classic).

"We are hugely keen to have Cee’d here but it will depend entirely on how well it goes in Europe," Mr Gillespie said.

"It’s on the table, but until they actually launch the vehicle in Europe we are not going to start talking to KME (Korea Motor Europe) about it.

"Once it’s launched and it settles down in the next two or three months, then we’ll start talking. We’ve raised it as an early issue, but at this point we haven’t started full discussions. We certainly will, though – the car is good enough and would be a great thing for us.

"We are as keen as mustard to get the car here, but we still need to get it at the right price." At least right-hand drive production is not an issue as the car is already being built for the UK market, where it was released in five-door hatchback form this week (February 1).

A wagon will be launched in September and a sporty three-door coupe version in December.

Cee’d carries an impressive seven-year/150,000km warranty that Kia claims is the best in Europe.

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