Contributor Since 2008
Kia reported U.S. November 2017 month sales:
Kia’s 2017 underperformance worsened in November, as sales were down 15.6%, bringing the year to date decline to 7.9%. Looking under the surface, we find some highly unusual peculiarities with Kia’s U.S. sales this year.
Kia is one of the few brands with an SUV-crossover problem, and it’s far from obvious why that is. At the center of the market, the Sorento is down 10.7% this year, and the Sportage 10.2%. That’s in segments where competitors are generally up 10%, not down.
Moving one half-step outside that core SUV-crossover land, the Soul is also down -- 18.9% -- this year. And moving one step up from that crossover land, the Sedona minivan is down a whopping 46.8% this year.
The only thing that mitigates these declines, if ever so slightly, is the Niro hybrid. It was introduced in early 2017 and is on track to end the year at almost 30,000 units. It’s basically selling approximately 2,200 or slightly above, per month. The plug-in hybrid version arrived in U.S. dealerships near the end of December.
The Optima midsize sedan is down 10% this year, which is typical for that segment. The larger Cadenza, which was new in September 2016, has seen a 47.4% upswing, but of course from a very low level. It’ll end the year barely above 7,000 units.
Kia’s smallest car, the Rio, underwent an all-new replacement in 2017, which was at least in part to blame for its decline especially during the first half of 2017, down 44.8%. However, later in the year it has started to recover thanks to the excellent new model. It was up 6.5% in November.
The slightly larger Forte has been Kia’s consistently good performer in 2017. It was all-new some time around September 2016. In 2017, it’s up 14.6%.
I really don’t know why the Sportage, Sorento and Soul in particular aren’t doing better. They are most attractive products and I find them very competitive. I could say the same thing about the Sedona minivan. It’s all a mystery.
It’s interesting how Kia has four nameplates that sell in the 100,000 to 120,000 unit per year range in the U.S. -- Optima, Forte, Sorento and Soul. Sportage has fallen a little behind and will end the year around 73,000.
Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.
Additional disclosure: At the time of submitting this article for publication, the author was short TSLA and long GM. However, positions can change at any time. The author regularly attends press conferences, new vehicle launches and equivalent, hosted by most major automakers.