Fresh products will buoy Kia
Kia dealers will face a more competitive marketplace in 2013 as Japanese and domestic brands ramp up marketing.
Don Hobden, executive manager of Kia dealerships in Kentucky, Alabama and Indiana and chairman of Kia's dealer council, says competitors are "a lot more aggressive" than six months ago so Kia dealers will have to fight harder for customers.
"Most of the models that Kia has are in very competitive groups, so we're seeing some of that, and we're fighting harder to keep our share of voice and keep our market share," Hobden says. "The climate is just more competitive now, and I think that's going to be the primary issue for 2013."
Kia posted record U.S. sales last year of 557,599 units, a 15 percent increase, while the overall market grew by 13 percent. The Kia figure marks a slowdown in the brand's rapid growth over the past few years, especially considering that Kia sales grew by 36 percent in 2011, more than triple the U.S. industry's 10 percent sales increase.
Kia will be buoyed this year by new product, including a redesigned Forte compact sedan debuting this spring, followed by coupe and five-door hatchback variants later in the year, as well as a re-engineered Sorento crossover and the new Cadenza large sedan. Having new product to talk about will help Kia win customers, Hobden says.
"We have four product launches this year, and nothing moves the market more than a fresh, clean look that people want to drive," he said.
Also helping Kia will be improved vehicle availability. Kia dealers had an estimated 65-day supply of vehicles on Feb. 1 compared with a 32-day stock on July 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
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