The news in brief from Kia

Kia to cull underperforming models to prepare for new small SUV and EVs.

It’s been busy at Kia Motors Australia recently with a number of new models joining the ranks including the GT-badged, 1.0-litre turbo-charged direct petrol-injection version of the Picanto micro car, plus the 1.6 turbo petrol GT Cerato (pictured). The latter is already selling well according to Kia executives, accounting for 16 percent of total Cerato sales in February. 

And the latest new car data has the company finishing the sales race for February in sixth place overall with a 4.1 percent increase in volume. The result defies the general market trend that sees the market as a whole succumbing to what FCAI chief Tony Weber described as “challenging economic conditions, including a downturn in the housing market” with new car sales slowing by 9.3 percent over the same time last year.

One model in the Kia stable that is underperforming in sales terms, like the majority of its mid-size competitors, is the Optima with Chief Operating Officer Damian Meredith indicating he doubted the model “had a future after this year” in the local Kia line-up.

The large rear-wheel-drive Stinger on the other hand is exceeding company expectations of sales numbers, with the potent 3.3 twin-turbo GT variant accounting for around 89 percent of Stinger sales. State police services are amongst those who have taken to the Stinger, with Queensland buying a total of 120, Western Australia 100, and the Northern Territory nine. New South Wales and South Australia are still evaluating it.

Expect to see Kia’s local range moving into the electric vehicle age with the e-Niro cross-over (pictured) set for release here later this year, most likely around September or October. Its fully-electric powertrain is claimed to offer a range of up to 486km on a single charge and 80 percent of charge is possible in one hour on a fast charger.

Kia Australia is keen to get the Soul EV here too, while another electric model, its model name withheld by local company executives, is likely to arrive here in 2021.

Australia’s love affair with dual-cab utes continues and Kia Australia is eager to get their share of the action. Development work on a light commercial vehicle back at head office in Korea is moving ahead, according to KMA executives, who are keen to have a diesel dual-cab (in both two and four-wheel drive versions) that is genuinely capable of competing with market leaders Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger in their range. They acknowledge it’s likely to be around 2022 before it’s available though.