It is the first time Kia has outsold Ford in a monthly sales race, the second time it has ranked in third place, and the third time it has beaten Hyundai.
Kia reported a record 7124 vehicles as sold in May 2021, a year-on-year increase of 158 per cent in a market that lifted by 67.5 per cent following sharp slowdowns this time last year.
Significantly, Kia has also overtaken Ford in the year-to-date sales tally for the first five months of 2020.
And Kia is within 1300 sales from Hyundai's year-to-date sales tally, the closest the two jointly-owned brands have been in the Australian market.
Kia sales in 2014 were just 28 per cent of what Hyundai sold in Australia; so far this year Kia’s sales are 96 per cent of sister brand Hyundai’s current delivery rate.
Kia sales in Australia have more than doubled in the past seven years – from 28,000 annual deliveries in 2014 to more than 61,000 prior to the pandemic – whereas its sister brand Hyundai has slumped from a peak of more than 101,000 annual sales to 64,800 deliveries last year.
Further, Kia has managed to overtake Ford without a double-cab ute, a vehicle type that has been at the top of the Australian sales charts for five and a half years.
However, Kia’s success and strong demand – combined with production slowdowns due to the global shortage of semiconductors – has left many showrooms bare, with limited replacement stock on the way.
According to a confidential Kia dealer bulletin, the current waiting times for all Kia models have been pushed back by up to six months.
For example, the Kia Picanto and Kia Cerato wait times have been extended by at least one month, while the Kia Rio, Kia Stonic, Kia Seltos, Kia Sportage, and Kia Stinger, are delayed by a further three months.
Certain versions of the Kia Sorento SUV – in particular the high-grade GT-Line – have a delay of up to six months.
The Kia Carnival is delayed by up to two months due to an engine delay, the dealer alert says.
The boss of Kia Australia, Damian Meredith, told CarAdvice the company is doing its best to work with the factory to shorten waiting times.
“We are working overtime with the factory to try to bring down waiting times, but the reality is the situation is changing all the time and we are monitoring this daily,” said Mr Meredith. “We kindly ask our customers to be patient and stay in contact with their dealer. We are all doing our best to get people into their new cars.”
As for the record result in May 2021 and overtaking Ford, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai, Mr Meredith said: “We are very proud and very humbled by this result. A lot of the sales were from orders placed months earlier, but our order write was also very strong in May, so we’re looking forward to June and beyond.”
Mr Meredith also urged customers who are considering a new car to place an order now so they have it in time for the summer holidays.
For its part, the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) has pleaded with customers to be patient.
The head of the AADA, James Voortman, has previously told CarAdvice: “We understand buyers are frustrated, but this is a global semiconductor shortage. Our advice is to get in the queue and stay in the queue. Our dealers will do the best they can to fill orders as fast as possible. The stock situation changes daily.”