[THE INVESTOR] Kia Motors, the nation’s second largest carmaker, on June 27 said it has no plans to sell the new Stonic subcompact SUV in the all-important US market, but instead will focus on the domestic and European markets.
“We don’t have plans to release Stonic in the US at the moment," Seo Bo-won, Kia’s domestic marketing director, told The Investor at the unveiling event of the vehicle at its Namyang Research & Development Center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. “We will first focus on the domestic market. Following the Korean debut, the car will be introduced in Europe sometime in the third quarter.”
Kia did not give further reason for ruling out US entry. The automaker, however -- considering relatively small compact SUV segment in the US -- seems to avoid going head-to-head with its bigger corporate cousin Hyundai, which is planning to release new Kona compact SUV in the country in December.
Kia has pulled the wraps off its B-segment SUV Stonic in Korea and has started receiving preorders. The car will be available officially from July 13.
Stonic, powered by 1.6-liter diesel engine paired to a seven-speed double-clutch transmission, boasts an affordable price tag that ranges from 19 million won (US$16,709) to 23 million won. That is about 2 million won cheaper than its compact car rivals, including its own Niro SUV, Hyundai Motor’s Kona, SsangYong Motor’s Tivoli and Renault Samsung’s QM3.
At the moment, only the diesel powertrain is available in Korea. The automaker said it hasn’t yet decided whether it will sell the gasoline-powered Stonic. “We will make a decision after observing consumer demand,” Seo said.
As for the European market, both gasoline and diesel options will be available, according to the carmaker.
The Stonic entry is expected to heat up the already competitive compact SUV segment in Korea, with Tivoli as the top-seller and Hyundai aiming to take over with its latest Kona compact SUV that was released earlier this month.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)