The new Telluride and the X-Line version of the Soul should give Kia a better shot at the booming utility market, said Bill Peffer, vice president of sales operations for Kia Motors America.
He's calling 2019 Kia's "Year of the SUV," which can't come too soon for the brand. While the market shifted to 69 percent light trucks last year, Kia was at just 40 percent. The rugged-looking Telluride three-row utility vehicle lets Kia compete in about 10 percent more of the market, he said after the brand's make meeting.
Kia is excited to be "matching the right product at the right time in the right place with our dealers," he said Saturday by telephone.
Dealers are pleased with the plan, he said, and didn't have any particular concerns about the brand's recall that began during the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history. About 68,000 Optima, Sorento and Sportage vehicles from the 2011 through 2014 model years were among those recalled this month. A high-pressure pipe may have been damaged or improperly installed as part of a prior recall of Kia and Hyundai vehicles, increasing fire risk, the companies said.
The voluntary recall will need to be reviewed by safety regulators now that the government is back in operation for three weeks while President Donald Trump and Congress seek to negotiate a more permanent solution.
"The good news is that, at least on an interim basis, they're back in business now," Peffer said.