Kia is expected to reposition the Soul crossover hatch as its entry-level SUV model within months - but it will mainly come down to price, rather than ride height.
Ever since the current-generation Soul arrived on sale in Australia in 2014, it has been considered too dear for what it offered in the market. There has also been a non-existent marketing spend around that model.
By the company's own admission, the Soul has been bought primarily by older buyers in Australia, but with a lower price and a different marketing tack, there's a chance the Soul could attract some younger buyers.
"We are looking at how we are going to reposition Soul right now," said Kia Australia chief operating officer, Damien Meredith.
Meredith quashed a notion of a $19,990 price tag for the Soul, but suggested that a lower list price than the current $26,990 ask was likely.
"Somewhere in between is probably where we’re looking at a pricing point," he said. "It’s probably a matter for us to get motivated to put the right strategy in. We’re working hard on it."
Meredith suggested that the brand is not alone in finding it difficult to make a success of a boxy bodied crossover hatch - Toyota axed the Rukus because it wasn't selling very well. And while there has always been some appeal to the Soul, it has mainly come with lower asking prices.
"If you look at that shape in Australia, I can’t think of one successful one," Meredith said.
Niro hybrid SUV not likely for Australia
The alternative model for Kia is the Niro compact hybrid SUV (pictured above), but Meredith said that vehicle isn't likely to be offered here based on both its size and its predicted price.
"In our model line-up, it would be great to get a [Mazda] CX-3 competitor," he said. "Niro is something the product planning guys are looking at really, really seriously, but again you’ve got a platform that’s a little bit smaller than Sportage, but because of its engine structure with hybrid, it’s a bit more expensive. So I’m not quite sure how we could get that to work.
"KMC [Kia Motors Corporation] are really keen for us to take Niro. We’ve just got to make sure that we’ve … you’ve got to be sure that you can get some critical mass out of everything that comes into the marketplace now," Meredith said. "If you bring an SUV in, you don’t want to sell 10 a month. You want to get a bit of oomph behind it."
"I really don’t know at this point in time. It’s too early in us talking to Korea about it, but as I said it’s a little bit smaller than Sportage, but because of its engine is more expensive, so I’m not quite sure that makes sense at this point in time.
"Everyone tells me Niro is a fantastic car. We’ll just wait and see."
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