plans first sports sedan next year as it seeks younger,
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[February 03, 2016]
By Hyunjoo Jin
SEOUL (Reuters) - Kia Motors plans to
launch its first sports sedan next year, people familiar with the matter
told Reuters, seeking to burnish a sporty, younger image as larger
sibling Hyundai Motor builds up its premium offerings.
Kia aims to start producing the sedan, codenamed CK, in May 2017 and
will target annual output of 60,000 vehicles, said two people with
direct knowledge of the matter, declining to be identified as the
plans have not been made official.
The four-door model plans to take on BMW's 4 series <BMWG.DE> as
well as the Audi A5 <BMWG.DE>, and will feature 2.0-litre, 2.2-litre
and 3.0-litre engine options, one person said, adding that it will
be Kia's second rear-wheel drive car.
Once known for cheap and bland models, both Hyundai and Kia are keen
to move upmarket as their cars gain traction with consumers but
differentiating their brands has been and will continue to prove a
Hyundai, which owns 34 percent of Kia, launched standalone luxury
brand Genesis last year making it difficult for Kia to compete in
that segment, particularly as its lone luxury offering, the K900,
has been met with a tepid response from consumers.
"As Kia has no luxury brand, it is trying to position itself as a
sporty brand," said a third person with knowledge of the planned new
A Kia spokesman declined to comment, saying the company did not
comment on plans for new models.
REPLICATING SOUL SUCCESS
The new car, smaller than Hyundai's mid-sized Genesis Coupe, would
be the first compact sports sedan from either firm. It will be made
at a Kia factory near Seoul after some production of the
lower-margin Rio small car is shifted to Mexico early next year, the
But carving out its own sporty niche could be tricky for Kia with
Hyundai also expected to launch a sports sedan and a new sports
coupe under the Genesis brand. Hyundai is also believed to be
working on high performance variants of some models from both the
Genesis and Hyundai marques in effort led by Albert Biermann, former
chief engineer for BMW's "M" performance car brand.
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Kia has hopes of a sports car that could replicate the success of
its boxy Soul, which represented the start of a design-driven
turnaround under chief designer Peter Schreyer, a veteran of Audi.
The automaker has since introduced several sporty sedan concept
vehicles including the GT and the Novo.
"Kia hit a home run with the Soul - they figured out how to keep it
fresh and fun," said Dave Sullivan, product analysis manager at
"Apply this formula to a rear-wheel drive sedan and they might be
able to go after a younger consumer who is bored with the played-out
BMW 3-Series but wants to move out of their Soul they have had since
college," said Sullivan, who is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Tony Munroe and Edwina Gibbs)
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