A trio of slow-selling Kia models have been given the chop, but a new baby SUV and Niro EV both coming soon to fill some of that void.
The Rondo has already been removed from the company's website, after finding just 150 buyers last year and 226 the year before. That represents only 0.3 per cent of the brand's sales in Australia over those two years.
Ditto the edgy but unloved Soul which captured just 808 sales over 2017/18, or 0.7 per cent of the brand's volume. The outgoing model has been discontinued and the brand new one premiered late last year in LA will not be coming to Australia - at least in internal combustion form.
Thus the badge will be gone for at least 12-18 months, if not more. However, not all hope is lost for fans of the Soul's unusual aesthetic.
Pictured: 2020 Soul EV
The Soul EV electric car is on the radar for a 2020/21 launch, following in the wheel tracks of the confirmed Niro EV that's arriving in January next year, with a launch planned for the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam to some fanfare to rival the Hyundai Kona EV and Nissan Leaf.
“I believe in EV and if we want to keep improving the brand we need to be at the cutting edge of these types of vehicles,” Kia Australia's COO Damien Meredith said.
The third piece in the puzzle is Optima, which has fallen victim to the spiralling mid-sized sedan segment (Toyota Camry the sole exception), managing only 1304 sales over the course of 2017 and 2018, about half of the Stinger's volume, which is 95 per cent high-margin GT six-cylinder models and unlike the Optima is an obvious 'halo' image-builder.
"Optima will probably be gone by the end of the year... the segment isn't very big," Meredith told us this week.
This will fill the gap between the Cerato and Sportage nicely, and attract buyers in the hugely popular Small SUV class where Kia presently has no offering.
As you can read in more detail here, Kia Australia has grown its sales from 28,005 units in 2014 to 58,815 units in 2018, and has grown again this year against the grain. Meredith is targeting 5.5 per cent overall market share this year, up from 5.1 per cent last year.
He said that “hopefully” a pickup would lob by 2021/22 would theoretically see the company nudge 100,000 annual sales – ballpark with Hyundai at present, which presumably would also grow in this scenario.
Pictured: Kia's SP Concept previews its imminent Mazda CX-3/CX-30 rival
All this means that by the end of 2019 Kia's range will comprise the Picanto hatch, Rio hatch, Cerato hatch/sedan, Stinger liftback, unseen B-segment SUV, Sportage crossover, Sorento SUV and Carnival people-mover. Then the Niro EV will lob in early 2020.
Kia Australia sales Jan-Feb 2019:
- Carnival: 1179
- Cerato 2994
- Optima 54
- Picanto 875
- Rio 1109
- Rondo 3
- Sorento 699
- Soul 37
- Sportage 2269
- Stinger 288
- Kia Total 9507