Kia expects minivan sales to increase with departure of rivals

Article by Anita Panait, on February 21, 2012

Kia plans to take advantage of the exit of other car manufacturers in the minivan segment and to increase its US sales in the sector by more than 25% by 2016. US sales in the minivan segment have dropped to 472,398 units in 2011, about a third of the 1,371,234 vehicles sold in 2000, when the sector was at its peak.

Despite the decline, Kia saw the opportunities.Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America marketing chief, expects the company’s minivan sales to increase over 25% by 2016, at it plans to increase its market share by simply not leaving the segment.

"We are seeing so many exit," said Sprague, referring to recent announcements of some minivan models leaving the segment, according to Autonews. One model is the Dodge Grand Caravan, which will be replaced with a crossover to end duplication with the Chrysler Town & Country, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has announced. Dodge sold 110,862 Grand Caravans in 2011. 

Sprague remarked that though a good number of that goes to fleet, there are still a large number of families with more than two children who prefer the functionality of a minivan.

He forecasts that by 2016, the minivan sector will become a 600,000-unit segment. The company is fielding the Sedona in the segment, which is ruled by the Toyota Sienna with 111,429 sales, followed by the Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey and the Town & Country. Kia only sold 24,047 Sedonas in 2011. The country will field the redesigned Sedona, based on the KV7 concept unveiled at the 2011 Detroit auto show, in two years.

New York City is considered as one of the best urban playgrounds in the world. It comes as no surprise then that Kia Motors America decided that this would be the most apt setting to unveil the midsized 2015 Sedona multi-purpose vehicle. With this, Kia officially closes the design-focused transformation story that started back in 2009 and resulted in a comprehensive restyling of the whole range.

This undertaking was made possible with Peter Schreyer, Chief Design Officer, in the lead. While the 2015 Sedona does have a similar style as that of a CUV, its proportions ensure that it goes beyond the limitations of the design while being able to deliver all of the functional convenience one expects in this segment. The wide stance displayed by the 2015 Sedona does not only contribute to the exterior that’s CUV-like and contemporary but also ensures that it goes beyond the usual functionality. Helping highlight this quality is the combination of the cab-forward design and front fascia which gives it that strength and confidence.

With the headlamps that have positioning lights in LED being integrated to the signature grille, it underscores both the smooth and clean look as well as the muscular appearance. On the rear section, the combination of the integrated bumper guard, LED taillights, and the roof spoiler result in a stable and wide stance. The side has a unique look especially with the alloy 19-inch wheels. This is partly due to the overhangs, both front and back, being reduced while the wheelbase was increased by 1.6 inches compared to the previous model. Kia also made sure that the interior would undergo changes in line with the principle it has implemented regarding the redesigns.

Thus the 2015 Sedona brings with it a higher level of sophistication. There will be a number of luxurious features and technology fitted inside, all of which are offered in the premium SXL trim level. This particular trim will be offered in the U.S. market starting either in the late third quarter of this year or the early fourth quarter. Aside from implementing a design that is unmistakably European-inspired, the interior will offer volume that will deliver enough space for passengers and cargo while ensuring that the cabin remains comfortable and quiet.

Kia Motors America’s Vice-President Product Planning Orth Hedrick revealed that during the development phase, engineers at both the Korea facility and U.S. plant made sure to put attention on making the 2015 Sedona more attractive with the use of premium technology and materials and paired with enhanced power and driving dynamics then integrated with a more contemporary style. With a number of passive and active safety features, the 2015 Sedona continues to have the functionality the brand is known for despite the redesign, he added. It is also able to meet the different tastes and needs of many customers today, Hedrick continued.

Topics: kia, minivan, sales

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