Kia preps 8-passenger MPV for New York

The redesigned minivan from Kia would bring some new competition to the market for kid-hauling soccer moms.

LOS ANGELES -- Kia said it plans to reveal what should be a successor to its Sedona minivan at the New York Auto Show this month.

Kia released a teaser image today of what it calls an “all-new midsize multi-purpose vehicle” that can seat up to eight passengers set to debut in New York.

Kia’s Sedona minivan is scheduled to be replaced with a redesigned model in the second half of the year, possibly in the fall, according to a source familiar with the company’s plans.

A redesigned minivan from Kia would bring some new competition to the market for kid-hauling soccer moms, which has long been dominated by heavyweights such as the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

Those four nameplates accounted for more than 80 percent of the 137,212 minivans sold in the United States in the first quarter of 2014. Sales of the segment’s seven other nameplates, which include the Sedona, Mazda5, Ford Transit Connect and Nissan Quest, fell well behind the 4 segment leaders.

Kia phased out the Sedona in 2012 but the vehicle returned to its U.S. lineup last year. Sales through the first three months of 2014 totaled a paltry 1,539 units.

Minivan sales are a little more than a third of the segment’s peak volumes seen at the turn of the century.

Yet unlike some competitors, such as sister-brand Hyundai, that have ceded the market to Chrysler, Honda and Toyota, Kia has long had eyes for the minivan segment. At the 2011 Detroit auto show, it revealed the KV7 concept, a sleek people mover designed to re-imagine what a minivan could be with gull-wing doors, swiveling seats and a rear corner “lounge” area.

Michael Sprague, Kia’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, told Automotive News in early 2012 that the segment presented an opportunity for Kia. Sprague said at the time that the segment could grow by 25 percent by 2016, and Kia could grow its segment share simply by remaining in the mix.

“We are seeing so many exit,” Sprague said in 2012. “There is opportunity in that.”

You can reach Ryan Beene at autonews@crain.com

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