But we could see a high-performance sub-brand similar to Hyundai's N division.
Kia has seen a lot of success as of late. There’s a new Ceed in Europe, the Stinger continues to be a hit, and the all-new Forte was launched in Detroit, aiming to build on the brand's ongoing compact car success. As a matter of fact, Kia was the only automaker in the U.S. in 2017 to see an increase in compact car sales, and the Korean company isn’t stoping now.
"It’s still a 2 million(-unit) market," said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning for Kia Motors America in an interview with WardsAuto. The company sold more than two million compact cars in the U.S. in 2017, with Forte sales jumping 13.8 percent, making it the best-selling car in the brand’s entire lineup. And with that success, Kia isn’t looking to transform the Forte into a CUV a la Honda or Chevy.
"One thing we always remind (people of is), when you want to move to a CUV there’s a premium involved," Hedrick said in the interview. "To get the same price point (of a compact car) you have to (buy a small CUV), and I think for a lot of folks going all the way down to an HR-V or a Trax or Soul doesn’t work for them." Currently the company offers two small crossover options, the Soul and the Niro.
But the brand has even bigger plans in the long run. Like Hyundai, Kia hopes to have its own performance sub-brand sometime in the near future. Already executives have hinted at a "more exciting" version of the Forte. But unlike Hyundai, Kia has no plans for an A-segment CUV, or a pickup.
"I don’t think we see an opportunity there," said Hedrick in regards to a smaller CUV below the Soul and Niro. When asked about the potential for a pickup similar to the Santa Cruz, Hedrick said, "it’s a big step to take and I think it’s a major commitment."
Source: Wards Auto