Hyundai’s sister brand Kia was the only brand inside the Top 10 to report sales growth in 2019 – the slowest new-car market since 2011 – after posting its fifth record result in a row and tripling its sales in 10 years.
Kia wasn’t even in the Top 10 until 2004 and 2005 – when it scraped into 10th place – when the Korean cars were imported by an independent distributor.
After Australian distribution was taken over by Kia Motors head office in 2006, it would take 10 years for the brand to return to the Top 10 list, in 2016.
After initially struggling under Kia ownership – the brand’s growth stagnated from 2011 to 2014 – it finally hit its straps in 2015 and hasn’t looked back since.
Kia embarked on a massive sales campaign to close the gap to its partner brand Hyundai. Until recently, the gap between Hyundai and Kia sales were wider in Australia than anywhere else the two brands are sold.
Kia has not only closed the gap to Hyundai, it has carved up some of Australia’s most popular car brands in the process.
Having finished in ninth place in the 2017 sales race, Kia climbed to seventh in 2018 (just behind Holden), and sixth in 2019 – just behind Ford and ahead of Nissan, Volkswagen, Honda and Holden.
In what appears to be an own goal, when Holden did not renew the contracts of about 20 of its longest-standing dealers across Australia two years ago, many of those showrooms were filled with Kia and Nissan, which now outsell Holden.
While Kia is on the rise, its sister brand Hyundai has had a tough time, with sales dipping to their lowest level since 2010 and the fourth year in a row of decline.
Indeed, in 2019 Kia (61,503) dramatically closed the gap to Hyundai (86,104), although the two brands were closer in the sales race in their formative years in the early 2000s.
With Kia posting five years in a row of growth and Hyundai recording four years in a row of decline, it has prompted some industry analysts to wonder if Kia is taking sales away from Hyundai – given that most models across both brands are the same underneath but have different designs.
Kia also has a longer warranty than Hyundai – seven years versus five (with the exception of the special seven-year warranty deal that Hyundai ran at the end of last year) – and, often has sharper drive-away prices.
When asked to comment on the 2019 results, Kia Australia boss Damien Meredith said: “There is no question that 2019 was a challenging year. Our result was built on exceptional products, focused planning and consistency of (pricing) delivery in all areas.”
Kia: a decade by the numbers
- 2010: 23,848, up 22.9 per cent
- 2011: 25,128, up 5.4 per cent
- 2012: 30,758, up 22.4 per cent
- 2013: 29,778, down 3.2 per cent
- 2014: 28,005, down 6.0 per cent
- 2015: 33,736, up 20.5 per cent
- 2016: 42,668, up 26.5 per cent
- 2017: 54,737, up 28.3 per cent
- 2018: 58,815, up 7.5 per cent
- 2019: 61,503, up 4.6 per cent
2019 Top 10 car brands:
- Toyota: 205,766, down 5.2 per cent (lowest result since 2014)
- Mazda: 97,619, down 12.3 per cent (lowest result since 2011)
- Hyundai: 86,104, down 8.6 per cent (lowest result since 2010)
- Mitsubishi: 83,250, down 2.0 per cent (lowest result since 2017)
- Ford: 63,303, down 8.4 per cent (lowest result since 1968)
- Kia: 61,503, up 4.6 per cent (record)
- Nissan: 50,575, down 12.3 per cent (lowest result since 2001)
- Volkswagen: 49,928, down 11.8 per cent (lowest result since 2011)
- Honda: 43,868, down 14.9 per cent (lowest result since 2016)
- Holden: 43,176, down 28.9 per cent (lowest result since 1954)
Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.