In most markets where Kia and Hyundai compete, the latter tends to hold the lion share of sales, but only with a 60:40 split. In Australia though, that figure is historically closer to 75:25, though it has improved in recent times to around 70:30.
According to Kia Australia’s chief operating officer Damien Meredith, something of a split equalisation is on the priority list for the brand’s local operation, but not if it takes sales away from Hyundai.
“[The growth] comes out of the rest of the market, there’s no question about that,” Meredith told CarAdvice.
“From a group point of view it’s very important that Hyundai remains strong and we grow. A 60:40 split, that’s where we would like to get to, if they are doing 100,000 we would like to be doing 60,000, that’s a long way off there’s no question about that, but this time last year we were 28 percent of Hyundai sales, last month we were 34 percent of Hyundai sales, so we are climbing.”
Meredith, who spent a decade working for Hyundai Australia, has a deep understanding of the sister brand’s operations and says the company thrived on the back of the global financial crisis thanks to the i30, iLoad and iMax in addition to numerous good strategic and product decisions.
Nonetheless, Kia is not Hyundai and Meredith believes things have to be done slightly differently.
“We have to focus on what we believe Kia means to the market and customers and that’s great product, which is tuned for Australia conditions with great value, and that’s how we see it.”
Although unwilling to put a timeline on when the Hyundai and Kia sales split in Australia will reflect global volume, Meredith confessed the brand’s ambitions to be at 50,000 sales in Australia by 2020, almost double the 28,000 units it sold in 2014.
So far this year Kia performance has put in the number 11 spot, exactly 1000 cars over the same period last year, showcasing an 8.3 percent growth.
Interestingly, the Kia Cerato small car is now the sixth-best seller in the segment, where it was ranked 11th last year. In fact, taking just the passenger car market into account, Kia ranks eighth, just 279 units behind seventh-placed Ford.
The South Korean brand this week launched the all-new Kia Sorento, which will soon be followed by the new Kia Optima later this year (November) alongside the small Picanto (very late this year or very early next year), to then be joined by an all new Kia Sportage in January 2016 with an expected debut at the Frankfurt motorshow later this year.