Kia executives divided on whether brand should offer sporty roadster

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 6, 2014

Kia Motors Corp. global design chief Peter Schreyer dreams of a sporty roadster, but that might remain a dream at least for now. According to Kia’s overseas marketing chief Lee Soon-nam, such vehicle would not adequately build the brand or increase profits and the carmaker must first focus on boosting brand image and awareness.

Lee told Automotive News that niche products like the roadster would only result to smaller volume, which means they couldn’t enhance Kia’s brand image fully. He said that Kia would like to build its brand image to some level, after which it can maximize the effects of the new car launch.

Lee’s remarks indicate an internal row on how the Kia brand should be developed and be differentiated from Hyundai Motor Co. Schreyer, who is also global design chief at Hyundai, has claims that Kia needs a small sporty car to help solidify its image as the youthful choice.

Kia unveiled its GT4 Stinger 2+2 sports coupe concept at the 2014 Detroit auto show. Schreyer said at the 2014 New York auto show that an upmarket, sporty rear-wheel-drive four-door coupe -- inspired by the GT Concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show -- had been all but approved for production. Lee, however, expressed two concerns on Schreyer’s strategy.

First, a sporty car's volumes might be too small to generate enough profits. Second, Kia's global brand image isn't yet stout enough to support a sporty car. He remarked that from a marketing point of view, a new car launch should help enhance a brand image.

Topics: kia, roadster

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