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Kia Australia’s massive sales growth over the past few years, which has seen it become our market’s ninth-selling brand overall, has taken even company management by surprise.

The Korean brand was up 35 per cent to 12,873 units over the first quarter of 2017, pushing it past Subaru and into ninth spot. The growth trajectory is putting the company at levels it did not plan to be at until about 2019/20.

This 25 per cent Q1 growth is over 2016, a year where the company grew 26.5 per cent to record highs, in turn over a record 2015 where it leapt up by a comparatively modest 20.5 per cent – admittedly off an underperforming base.

2017 Kia Sportage Si Premium

“I don’t think anyone expects to be up 20 per cent, 26 per cent and 34 per cent,” Kia Australia COO – and ex Hyundai Australia executive – Damien Meredith said this week. 

“I said when I first joined I’d be happy if we were at 50,000 units [annually] by 2019 0r 2020. We’ll probably get there this year.” The company’s full-year record set last year was 42,668 units. 

Growth this year is coming from the Cerato, which is belying a drop in passenger car sales thanks to bargain-basement pricing, which Kia is able to offset by selling high-ratio numbers of top-end Sorentos and Carnivals.

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Cerato sales over Q1 grew 94 per cent to 4654 units. Other strong performers were Sportage (3385, up 30.5 per cent), Sorento (1146, up 17 per cent) and Soul (73 units, up almost four-fold). The new Picanto is also averaging about 270 units a month, all incremental.

With the new Rio rolling out, a new Picanto due within months, and the much-hyped Stinger GT – a 272kW rear-drive sports sedan – due in September, there’s plenty of fresh metal to keep the dealers and buyers engaged.

Beyond this, the new Cerato is expected during 2018 and will bring a new circa-150kW turbo variant with dual-clutch gearbox.

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Meredith also said the addition of an industry topping seven-year warranty was vital, because it gave people “permission to buy” a brand they may have been on the fence about.

There does appear to be a ceiling for Kia, however, given its small SUV to rival to the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Hyundai’s imminent Kona is not expected until 2019, oddly.

It also has no clear timeline for a van and ute range, despite lobbying its Korean parent hard.

TOP 25 BRANDS JAN-MARCH

BRAND

SALES

GROWTH

Toyota

48,514

Up 4.3 per cent

Mazda

30,462

Even

Hyundai

22,406

Down 8.2 per cent

Holden

20,119

Down 10.7 per cent

Ford

18,433

Down 1.1 per cent

Mitsubishi

18,416

Up 1.1 per cent

Nissan

15,057

Down 13.3 per cent

Volkswagen

13,735

Down 5.8 per cent

Kia

12,873

Up 34.8 per cent

Subaru

12,761

Up 8.4 per cent

MercedesBenz

10,400

Up 3.3 per cent

Honda

9772

Up 1.8 per cent

BMW

6330

Down 15.4 per cent

Audi

5244

Down 14.9 per cent

Suzuki

4878

Down 5.1 per cent

Isuzu Ute

4495

Down 19.9 per cent

Land Rover

3948

Down 3.5 per cent

Renault

2619

Up 9.8 per cent

Lexus

2255

Up 3.2 per cent

Jeep

1925

Down 49.2 per cent

Porsche

1442

Up 1.8 per cent

Volvo Car

1175

Down 20.8 per cent

Skoda

1097

Up 3.2 per cent

Mini

893

Down 1.7 per cent

Jaguar

820

Up 20.6 per cent

 

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