Kia bucks trend and records sales increase

June 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Kia’s new-look model range is catching on with buyers around the world, with sales increasing in a number of markets.

Against the general trend, Kia Motors has recorded an 11.5% increase in international sales in May and for the year to date its sales are now up by 0.5%. Almost every other car maker is continuing to lose sales as economic woes persist.

The success comes on the back of the introduction of new designs, led by the Kia Soul cross-over and Kia Cerato sedan. The new Cerato is only just going on sale now in the world’s largest market, the US.

By region, Kia posted a year-on-year sales increase of 51.3% in China, 44% increase in Korea and a 13% increase in general markets during May. Year-to-date Kia is already ahead of 2008 with 590,934 sales international, led by general markets (up 17%) and the Korean home market (up 14.2%).

Sales of the new Cerato have only just started in most countries, but it is already Kia’s best-selling model for 2009 with 95,883 units, followed by the B-segment Rio. And while 4×4 sales have dropped significantly for other manufacturers, Kia’s recreational vehicles, which include the Sportage and Sorento, achieved an increase of 24.6% during May.

Here in NZ, the new Soul and Cerato are also just starting to make their presence felt, helping Kia to achieve a market share in excess of 4% in May, it’s best result ever. The Kia Carnival also continues to be the best-selling MPV in New Zealand.

Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand, says the new designs created by chief designer Peter Screyer are definitely paying off, with more buyers now expressing interest in purchasing a Kia.

“We are seeing more people coming into Kia showrooms to see our new models and it is only going to get better from here as Kia continues to introduce a wave of new cars in the coming months,” he says.

Meanwhile, the growing strength of Kia has seen a number of Saab dealers in Sweden approach the Korean company to add the brand to their showrooms. Three Swedish Saab dealers have already signed up and a number of others are expected to follow.

And in the UK, Kia dealers have been surprised by the type of cars that British motorists are wishing to trade on brand new Kias under the Government’s Cash For Clunkers scheme. They report that some Mercedes, Porsche and Jaguar owners have been scrapping their older motors in favour of the Kia Picanto mini car, with their old cars being crushed.

Collectively, British Kia dealers have traded two Porsches, five Jaguars, 53 Mercedes and 30 BMWs since the Government began its scrappage scheme in May. Under the scheme owners get £2,000 (NZ$5200) for their old cars, with 75% of motorists opting for the Picanto, which cost them just £4,195 (NZ$10,900) including the grant.

One Kia dealer refused to accept a classic Singer under the scheme because he didn’t want to see it destroyed, but he helped the lady owner sell it so she could buy a new Picanto.

We recently road tested the new Kia Soul. Click here to check out the review.

New Mitsubishi Lancer SUV cross-over

July 17th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

mitsubishi-lancer-dakar-rally

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has announced a new era of Motor Sports design and engineering with its next-generation racer, the all-new crossover “Racing Lancer”.

With this car, MMC has added a new dimension to its racing activities, blending 35 years of Lancer prowess with 25 years of Pajero epics.

The end result is a cross over between on-road and off-road rallying as well as applying to passenger cars and SUVs.

Sporting a silhouette inspired by the recently previewed Lancer Sportback 5-door hatch, Racing Lancer will support Mitsubishi’s offensive in the passenger car sector, much like the Pajero Evolution in parallel to the production Shogun in 2006.

The Racing Lancer will become MMC’s key ambassador for diesel technologies. Mitsubishi’s long recognized expertise in engine development as a pioneer in clean emissions, balancing shafts, turbo-charging, and direct injection since the 1970s has again been mobilized to create a diesel engineering centre of excellence within the Company covering a wide range of diesel powertrains.

From the all-new 4N13 Euro V 4-cylinder engine to be launched in 2009 to Racing Lancer’s 3.0 litre turbo-charged V6 diesel race engine, all will share the same fundamental know-how and the same essential low fuel consumption and low emissions ‘green benefits’ of Mitsubishi’s diesel technology. The engine is currently finalising development on qualifying rounds of the 2008 Dakar Series and the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup.

MRX09 is Mitsubishi’s new codename for its latest cross-country rally challenger. ‘MRX09′ stands for ‘Mitsubishi Rally ‘Cross Country’ (‘X’), plus a suffix for the year in which it competes (’09’ = 2009).

The MRX09 features a new, multi-tubular steel frame which has benefited from advanced Computer Aided Engineering analysis with a view to optimizing the layout and dimensioning of the tubing.

The carbon-fibre bodywork of the MRX09 is redolent of the Lancer Sportback, and will come equipped with the same 4WD system, drive train, suspension and brakes – following their modification in accordance with the new technical regulations and as a function of the characteristics of the diesel turbo powerplant.

Technical Specification

Overall length: 4,475mm
Overall width: 1,990mm
Wheelbase: 2,900mm
Track (front/rear): 1,750mm/1,750mm
Weight: 1,900kg
Engine: 2,997cc V6 turbocharged diesel Maximum power: more than 190kW (260hp)
Maximum torque: more than 650Nm (66.3kgm)
Transmission: Ricardo five-speed sequential, manual 4WD system: permanent four-wheel drive with limited slip central differential

Racing Lancer is a Super Production Cross-Country Rally car, which has been developed in compliance with the FIA’s Group T1 regulations (modified cross-country rally cars). It also complies with the new rules due to come into force in 2010.

Supported by the highly successful trial period of the new engine, already raced several times with Pajero Evolution over the last months, Mitsubishi Motors is confident that the Racing Lancer will be a major player at the 2009 Dakar rally.

The Dakar race itself will break new ground next year with a switch from Africa to South America, just as Racing Lancer will itself mark a new start for Mitsubishi Motorsports.