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Kia sales to rise as new product docks

Improved supply and new product offerings to see Kia regain market share in year ahead

25 Jan 2024

KIA finished 2023 down 2210 units (or 2.8 per cent) when compared with the year prior, selling a total of 76,120 units for the calendar year.


The South Korean importer’s overall market share dropped 0.9 per cent to 6.3 per cent, with supply constraints largely responsible for the decline.


Despite the bad news, Kia still managed to finish 2023 as Australia’s fourth favourite marque, ahead of sister brand Hyundai (75,183) and behind Ford (87,800).


It is a position Kia Australia says will improve as 2024 progresses, with increased supply and a range of facelifted and new models joining its passenger, SUV, and electric vehicle portfolios.


Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the facelifted Sorento SUV this week, Kia Australia general manager of product planning Roland Rivero said supply constraints are beginning to ease.


Along with the introduction of several new and updated models – including the hybridised Carnival and Sportage – he said the situation will see the importer claw back valuable market share.


“We are looking forward to a better year in terms of supply than we had in 2023,” he said confidently.


“There are potential uplifts across several model lines – Sorento, for example, was very tight for us in 2023 and there is a potential uplift for Sportage, too.


“There are a lot of back-orders for Sportage – thousands, in fact – which we are working with the factory to get through.


“Seltos has been very difficult, and we’re probably not in a position to have a great uplift there at this point in time. But at least Sportage and Sorento are beginning to improve.”


Despite the supply limitations, Kia’s SUV range performed well throughout 2023 with Light segment Stonic selling 6983 units (second place), the Small segment Seltos 10,473 units (fifth place), Medium segment Sportage 15,747 units (sixth place), and Large segment Sorento 8366 units (sixth place).


Mr Rivero said Kia Australia’s fortunes in 2023 were due largely to an adequate supply of Carnival, which finished the year as the country’s best-selling People Mover, tallying 11,312 unit sales – or 82.4 per cent of the segment.


“We got lucky last year with Carnival, whereby we found ways to countermeasure some of the semiconductor shortage issues,” he outlined.


“I think Carnival is always going to be one of those models we can lean on when there might be shortfall elsewhere – like Sorento.”


While Mr Rivero was apologetic about the wait for the buyers of selected models, he asked that customers remain patient to avoid losing their position in the queue.


“It has been a long wait for some … but I would encourage Sportage buyers to remain patient. The situation is improving,” he stressed.


“The issue for buyers who leave the queue is that they will move to the bottom of someone else’s queue – and that could see them waiting even longer.


“It is difficult, we understand that. But this year is going to be a lot better in regard to supply and wait times.”


Mr Rivero said the introduction of several model cycle updates – and new models – will result in increased choice for Kia customers and said the introduction of the hybrid Carnival is one he believes will particularly appeal to Australia buyers, especiallyh those in search of a more economical alternative.


“Both the Sorento and Carnival will be updated this year – the Carnival set to receive a similar treatment to that seen on the Sorento launched this week,” he stated.


”There will also be the introduction of a hybrid version of the Carnival in right-hand drive coming to Australia in the latter part of quarter two. However, supply will remain tight for the Carnival Hybrid.”


Demand in markets where lower emissions vehicles are prioritised will ultimately impact the numbers of hybrid models available to Kia Australia. Mr Rivero said that buyers interested in a petrol-electric hybrid model should get in early to avoid disappointment.


“We run into a little bit of a problem when it comes to hybrids – particularly Sorento and Carnival – in that demand in other markets with CO2 regulations are prioritised over ours. South Korea is quite a big market for hybrid, as is Western Europe,” he explained.


“But there is light at the end of the tunnel, because Sportage Hybrid is also coming. It will be here around late February or early March, and supply for that model will likely be the best of all our hybrid models.


“We think there is some potential to convert customers either from other models, or who already of the waiting list for Sportage, into a hybrid model.


“It may even have the potential to convert some of those buyers who have been anxiously waiting for a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – it is another alternative for Australian buyers.”


Further ahead, Mr Rivero said Kia Australia would be better positioned to topple Ford when its highly anticipated Tasman utility arrives.


Due to market in 2025, the dual-cab model is set to offer Kia a vital entrant in the intensely competitive four-wheel drive pick-up/cab-chassis sector – even presenting the potential to take on new energy players from Ford, GWM, LDV, and Volkswagen.


“Obviously we want to keep growing our presence in the Australian market … we

would be silly to turn away from an offering like a commercial vehicle,” Mr Rivero told GoAuto.


“Ford sold 63,000 of them last year and Toyota’s HiLux was just behind them. There is a very big appetite for utes – irrespective of movements in government benefits and what have you.


“With such clear and high demand for that type of product, we have every intention of raising our hand for the model when it becomes available.


“That said, we are not going to give away anything in terms of our SUV or passenger share – after all, those models are what we built our reputation on.


“What you will see, given the traditionally longer product cycle of a utility model, is that while we will come to market initially with a diesel-powered model, that may not be the case for the rest of its model life.


“We have the ability to work with our R&D teams to continuously evolve the product to make sure it remains relevant and competitive in the marketplace, and at the moment, I can say ‘watch this space’.”

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