Kia has previously sold a couple of work vehicles in Australia, most notably the cut-price Pregio van, which sold between 2002 and 2006, and was at times the second most popular van on sale after the Toyota HiAce. Kia Australia sold 12,247 of them in total.
In the year's since the demise of the cheap, famously slow, but reliable (based on the number you still see trucking along) Pregio, sister brand Hyundai has leapt into the breach with the iLoad, now the second top-seller after, you guessed it, the HiAce.
Kia also offered the K2700 and, later, the K900 light trucks through the 2000s, ending in 2012. At various times, more than one-in-five Kias being sold here were vans and light trucks, with buyers drawn in by their low cost of entry.
Since then, however, Kia Motors has focused much more on growing its passenger and SUV range, though it still offers updates of the aged K-Series trucks in some markets.
But Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith says the company’s local arm would leap at the chance to return to the commercial market if it had access to export-suitable product.
“If a light commercial vehicle was available tomorrow I’d be first in line. There’s some product that’s suitable for the domestic market and not suitable for export,” he said.
“We continually ask for the potential of a LCV range, I think it'd be great for us in regards to helping volume and the dealer network, and spreading the Kia message. One would hope (we get it).”
Commercial vehicles are valuable to brands not just on account of the extra volume they provide, but because they spread the word to a different section of the market, and if they prove reliable, can improve image across the board.
Kia Australia is nevertheless doing well despite the lack of light commercials. Sales are up more than 20 per cent this year, and it’s on track to sell 39,000 vehicles for the calendar year.