Kia Stinger might not last the distance
It’s early days for the Kia Stinger but the South Korean maker admits the car has been more of a branding exercise than a long-term viable model.
The four-door liftback came at an opportune time to Australia, when local rear-wheel drive heroes like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon had stopped being produced and fans wanting for a bit of grunt, four-door body style and rear-drive bias in an affordable package were left scratching in the leaves.
While sales have been strong for Kia in Australia, with a waiting list for the V6 model and the smaller 2.0-litre four-cylinder easier to source, the future of model seems dependant on success in the US.
Speaking to media at the Paris motor at the launch of Kia’s new Proceed GT and Ceed GT that should do well in Europe, Kia design chief Gregory Guillaume said the Stinger was at best a branding exercise in that continent’s market.
“As an aspirational point of view, definitely [the Stinger has been a success],” said Guillaume.
“For the first time in Paris I was in a Stinger in traffic and it was when all of the kids come out from school and they were all staring saying, ‘Look, a Kia!’ This is all brand building for kids that in ten to fifteen years’ time might remember that day they saw a grey Stinger in Paris.
“I think it was the best thing Kia could do to build the Stinger. I pushed the whole thing along from day one, but it was definitely the right thing to do.”
Local sales volume in Australia is unlikely to tickle the parent company’s ledger and according to Guillaume it will take sales success in a large market, such as North America, to keep the Stinger ticking along.
“Whether there will be a replacement is too early to say,” he told Drive.
“We are in a company that even if they do understand the potential of the value of this brand building object, we still have to be economically successful with that vehicle. We never planned to do it in Europe and with a car like that it is very difficult, but there are other parts of the world where it can work, we believe.
“We launched the car last year, so we have to give it a bit of time, but the intention is America for example. They need to sell the car, they need to do volume with that car.
“Marketing guys in Europe understand that and still put a lot of money into communicating that car but are not hoping to have such an enormous return on that product, but for the brand, it was the best thing that could happen.”
Alex Rae is Drive’s Melbourne based reporter with over 10 years’ experience in the automotive industry as a photographer and journalist. Having studied both engineering and the arts, Alex understands what makes things tick while appreciating that sometimes it’s all about form over matter…