Likely podium position for Kia – ahead of Hyundai – as it aims for 77,000 sales

goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia
goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia
goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia
goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia
goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia
goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia
goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia

KIA Australia will achieve another record sales year in 2022 – the expectation being around 77,000 sales – and a higher manufacturer position than Hyundai, marking the first time that Kia had outsold its sister brand in this country.

Speaking to GoAuto at the facelifted Seltos launch, Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith downplayed any perceived rivalry with Hyundai – instead focusing on the performance of Hyundai/Kia as a whole.

“As a group, we’ve grown,” said Mr Meredith. “The totality is that Hyundai and Kia together (which, along with Genesis, form part of the Hyundai Motor Company) have grown significantly – number two, easily, in the Australian market.

“I think we’ve done a good job with the (Kia) brand, I think we’ve done a good job with the product, and all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have come together pretty well. You can’t go from 28,000 to 77-78,000 (annual sales) in eight years without things falling into place,” he said.

Even more crucial to Kia Australia’s fortunes, however, is supply.

“We’ve done very well with getting stock into the country,” said Mr Meredith. “It hasn’t been optimal, but we’ve been getting stock. People have an appetite for new cars and we’ve been able to supply pretty well in 2022”

However, not every Kia model has enjoyed relatively unfettered access.

Upper-end Carnival and Sorento variants “are both difficult,” said Mr Meredith.

“The base models have been okay (but) it’s the top end that’s been the issue, where we’ve been selling the majority. For the last half a dozen years or so, we’ve always sold top-end Carnival and top-end Sorento (as the highest-volume variants).

“I think what we did with Carnival with this current shape was it overlapped with SUV. And that opened up the mouth of inquiry and we’ve been able to lift volume because of it,” he said, alluding to the Carnival people mover being a stronger seller than the Sorento large SUV, with sales up 38 per cent in 2022 despite supply issues with the V6 petrol engine.

“Carnival’s been doing exceptionally well this generation – the demand has been very, very strong – and a lot of it is at the top end,” said Kia Australia general manager of product planning, Roland Rivero.

“Everyone wants to buy a Platinum but its potential was a little bit limited because of the V6 Lambda petrol,” explained Mr Rivero.

“There are severe supply restrictions on (that engine). We’ve had to try and move customers out of a petrol and into a diesel – there’s been some work done together with our dealer network (to achieve that).”

As for the just-launched MY23 Seltos small SUV, Kia Australia expects to achieve 10,000 sales in 2023, which is roughly what the nameplate will manage this year – a situation that has occasionally been affected by supply.

Reflecting Kia Australia’s preference for offering special-edition models instead of decontenting equipment to maintain supply, the MY23 Seltos range now permanently includes a 2.0-litre front-drive GT-Line variant due to the success of an earlier limited-run version introduced to subvert component shortages relating to the 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine.

“We’ve been a bit more tactical in our approach, said Mr Rivero.

“From a product planning perspective, we want to design or develop a product strategy that’s going to last at least until its facelift or until an all-new model comes along. We don’t really want to tamper with that too much, and I think how we’ve been able to get around the semiconductor issue is with a limited edition or a special edition. We haven’t had a decontent of any sort. 

“The example with Seltos is the 2.0-litre GT-Line variant. We had some issues with the 1.6 turbo from a supply perspective (but) customers still wanted the top-of-the-range with everything in it, and they were willing to pay for a front-wheel-drive 2.0-litre. And now it’s part of the range,” he said.

The facelifted MY23 Seltos offers the GT-Line with two drivetrains – a new-generation ‘Smartstream-G’ 1.6 turbo with AWD, tied to a new eight-speed automatic, and a front-drive model with a carry-over 2.0-litre/CVT drivetrain. 

Kia Australia expects the MY23 GT-Line to make up 35 per cent of total Seltos sales – the GT-Line 1.6T taking 25 per cent and the GT-Line 2.0 making up 10 per cent.

The Seltos Sport 2.0 is next (25 per cent of total sales), followed by the Sport+ 2.0/1.6T AWD (25 per cent, marginally favouring the 1.6T), and the entry-level Seltos S 2.0 (15 per cent).

2023 Kia Seltos pricing*:

S (a)

$29,500

(+$2210)

Sport (a)

$32,700

(+$2410)

Sport+ (a)

$35,800

(+$2010)

Sport+ AWD (a)

$39,300

(+$2010)

GT-Line (a)

$41,500

(+$2710)

GT-Line AWD (a)

$44,900

(+$2200)

*Pricing excludes on-road costs.

goauto, car reviews, road tests, first drive, driving impressions, kia

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