The operations boss for Kia Australia says he is all too aware of the “nearly compulsory” status of autonomous emergency braking in today’s new cars, and the situation has left his team with a dilemma.
Last year, Kia Australia chief operations officer Damien Meredith was “pretty confident” buyers could expect to find autonomous emergency braking (AEB) at every level of the new 2018 Cerato range, revealed in Detroit this week.
In the same discussion, Meredith acknowledged the value of a price-leader model in the line-up, confirming that a sub-$20,000 starting point was a target for the new model. Indeed, Hyundai has recently arrived at the same conclusion, launching the $19,990 i30 Go.
Speaking with press again this week, Meredith said he intends to stay competitive at the entry-level end.
“We’ll try very very hard to have a Cerato in at $19,990. Whether it be manual or auto, we haven’t decided yet – we haven’t finalised our pricing strategy at this point in time. It’s worked very well though in terms of giving us clear air against the competitors, so we’ll be working very hard to have that price point.”
Hitting that magical sub-$20k point will likely mean compromising on another of the company’s targets: autonomous emergency braking across the Cerato range.
Again with Hyundai as a comparison, the cheapest i30 models with AEB are the $28,950 SR and Elite, in automatic – both a far sight pricier than Kia thinks it can do for an AEB-equipped model.
“Would you go $19,990 without AEB or would you go $20,490 with AEB,” Meredith said.
“I would think as you get stronger in the marketplace, you’d go $20,490, but let’s see what happens. We haven’t decided what pricing we’ll do with each specification level, but I think the market demands all levels of all vehicles need AEB.”
Would that preclude a sub-$20k entry price?
“I don’t know, I don’t know at this point in time. We believe $19,990 is important, but so is AEB. If we could get both, that would be fantastic, but I’m not quite sure we could do that.”
It may be that Kia will take a path similar to Hyundai, which has left AEB out of the entry-level Go and Active models, but with the option to add it in with a Safety Pack expected to cost around $1750 – although even that won’t be available until February.
Watch for more details on the new Cerato range to come in the months ahead.