November 2017 Sales For Kia: Down 15.6%

Anton Wahlman profile picture
Anton Wahlman's Blog
Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Long/Short Equity

Contributor Since 2008

I am a former sell-side analyst -- UBS 1996-2002, Needham 2002-2006 and ThinkEquity 2006-2008. These days I review automobiles and other technology products, as well as analyze the automotive and technology industries, and coming up with long/short ideas. I also continue to write (less frequently) on macroeconomics and politics.


  • Kia’s losses expanded to 15.6% for November, putting the year at a 7.9% decline to date.
  • Kia has a crossover-SUV problem in the U.S., where its two core products -- Sportage and Sorento -- are declining in sales 10% when they should be up 10%.
  • The other two crossover products, Soul and Sedona, are also down, when they ought to be performing better in this market.
  • On a positive note, the Niro hybrid is selling at 2,200+ per month and has been a welcome addition to the lineup.
  • The consistent 2017 performer has been the Forte compact car, which was new in September 2016.  The all-new Rio followed a year later.

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.

To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.