Kia to set up new HQ in NZ

January 13th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Motors has its sights set on increased growth in New Zealand as it prepares to move to a larger and more impressive headquarters. Ignoring the present economic slump, Korea’s oldest car maker is on track to establish a new base in the East Auckland suburb of Highbrook by the end of April, to provide a springboard for future expansion.

“It is a good time to be making the move because it will allow us to have everything in place once the market starts to pick up,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

“2009 will be our busiest year in New Zealand, with several new models to be launched, including the all-new Soul city car. With our larger building, we’ll have new sales and support systems in place to help us make the most of the opportunities that will be provided by the new model activity.”

The new building, currently being fitted out in Highbrook Drive, is more than three times the size of the existing Kia base in Mt Wellington and will enable the company to house all its operations on one site, including parts, which have had to be stored elsewhere due to lack of space.

But the most interesting aspect of the new building is that it will house a retail new car sales showroom, in order to increase the exposure of Kia and serve customers in the East Auckland area.

Mr Mcdonald says the high profile position of the building is ideal for a retail showroom and it will provide Kia with the ability to continue sales and marketing strategies and gain real-time feedback from customers on site, as well as acting as a flagship facility for its dealer network.

“We have been looking to re-establish our sales presence on the eastern flank of Auckland for a while but there haven’t been any opportunities with dealerships in the area, so we decided to open our own showroom within the new premises,” he adds.

However, Mr McDonald stresses there are no plans for Kia Motors to expand into direct sales itself. The showroom itself will be staffed and run by one of Kia’s existing dealers and is seen as a one-off course of action.

Kia unveils its Green Car technology

November 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Borrego FCEV 1_2

Kia has announced its intentions to be the first to bring a zero-emissions ‘Green’ car into mass production with the unveiling of a new fuel cell concept vehicle. The new technology is being showcased in a special version of the Kia Borrego, the large V8-powered SUV model introduced by the Korean car company earlier this year.

Kia Motors has been making attempts at fuel cell technology for a number of years and already has a number of trial vehicles being tested in Korea and the United States using earlier versions of the technology, which still have a limited range and lifespan. The next goal for Kia is to increase the effective range and build a fuel cell that can perform at peak power for up to ten years (early versions drop off in performance after three years).

The Borrego FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle), features numerous innovations including a higher output 154 horsepower fuel cell and a new 450-volt Supercapacitor to give the vehicle higher performance, a greatly extended driving range and cold-weather starting capability to operate in sub-zero temperatures.

Available with two and three hydrogen tank systems with 70MPa pressure, the Borrego FCEV’s power plant is located under the center floor. The hydrogen is converted into electricity to drive an electric motor and the only emission is water vapour.

The fuel cell propels the vehicle to a top speed of 161km/h while boasting system efficiency of 62%. With a 202-litre hydrogen storage tank located underneath the cabin and ahead of the rear wheels, this latest Kia Motors research vehicle has a range of around 685km, which is better than most petrol cars and equal to, say, a diesel 1-tonne ute.

“Kia is entering an exciting phase of fuel cell development,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

“I have been privileged to see and experience earlier versions of Kia fuel cell-powered vehicles in Korea and they were very impressive, but the new development appears to be much closer to a production model. It would be fantastic to see vehicles like this on New Zealand roads, supporting our own clean and green image.”

Kia has said that it is aiming to have a fuel cell vehicle in production for sale to consumers as early as 2011.

Kia kaha- Kia maintains strong sales figures

November 21st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

kia-

Kia Motors has experienced strong sales growth in 2008, even as some of the world’s biggest motoring names are buffeted by huge losses.

Figures just released show that Kia has increased its global sales for the first ten months of 2008 by 12.7%, to reach a total of 1,172,958 by the end of October. Strong sales in emerging markets like China and also its domestic market in Korea have more than offset dips in crisis-hit US and European countries. Sales in China, where Kia opened its second factory last year, are ahead by 36.8% and at home sales are up 33.9%. In markets outside of the US and Europe the increase is 15.2%.

What’s more, Kia Motors has returned to profitability, moving back into the black this year, following heavy investments in new production facilities around the world recently that had put its finances under pressure.

Kia has ceveloped a range of new models to be introduced onto the international stage soon, including the all-new Soul city car and the new Cerato sedan.

“When you look at what is happening around the world, Kia is in a strong position going forward, which has to be a comforting thought for our customers — even though results are likely to be weaker over the next few months,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

Mr McDonald says the success enjoyed by Kia has come at a time of reduced new model activity in 2008, when the company had few new offerings to boost the market. Next year marks the start of a new model blitz.
Currently, Kia’s best selling model in overseas markets to date this year has been the C-segment Cerato with 166,688 units sold. It is followed closely by the B-segment Rio at 133,864 units and the C-segment cee’d at 128,672 units. Kia’s Sportage compact SUV and the A-segment Picanto continue to perform well with 122,330 and 81,136 units sold, respectively. 580,846 passenger cars have been sold so far in 2008, representing a 19.0% year-on-year increase, and representing almost 50% of sales.

Kia next to raise NZ car prices

October 31st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Picanto

Kia Motors is the next car company to raise prices with an announcement this week. Kia stated that the dramatic fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar will mean the price of its new cars will have to rise.

Todd Mcdonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand says prices will increase in the first week of November and will probably be introduced in small increments, as vehicle shipments progressively arrive from Korea. He says rises will vary from model to model and will be between 4% and 11%.

But the good news is that some Kia models will remain at current prices for a few more weeks, until present stocks are exhausted. Most of these are likely to be sold before Christmas.

Kia may bring ISG stop-start technology to NZ

October 22nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia cee'd ISG rq

Kia will be among the first to offer fuel saving automatic stop-start technology on a mass-market car when it introduces the new ISG system in the New Year on the European-made cee’d model.

And we may see the system on Kia vehicles coming to New Zealand in the future.

ISG stands for Idle, Stop & Go and is a system designed to sense when the car is sitting idle at traffic lights or in a queue, switching off the engine to conserve fuel. When the clutch is depressed ISG instantly re-starts the engine without any other input from the driver and the car resumes driving as normal.

Kia says the ISG system is likely to make fuel economy savings of around 15%, as well as cutting exhaust emissions.

It will be fitted to the 1.6-litre petrol-powered cee’d manual sold in Europe from the beginning of February next year. Kia says ISG will appear on other models in the future.

No word yet on when the ISG system could be fitted to vehicles aimed at the New Zealand market, although Kia Motors NZ is in discussions with its parent about bringing the cee’d to this country.

“We would be keen to see the ISG technology on Kia models for our market, even if the cee’d doesn’t eventuate — it’s an excellent idea and with the amount of stop-start driving that many city car owners have to endure I am sure it will be a winner when it does arrive,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors NZ.

Kia first showcased the ISG technology on a petrol/electric hybrid concept vehicle last year but decided the system was outstanding enough on its own to introduce to an existing mainstream model.

The innovative ISG system was displayed on the Kia cee’d at the recent Paris Motor Show, alongside Kia’s other eco-friendly developments — a petrol/electric hybrid Kia Soul city car and a zero emission, fuel-cell powered Kia Sportage.

The ISG system incorporates a ‘smart’ starter motor linked to the ECU, which monitors the vehicle’s status at all times. When the car comes to a halt, the ECU uses information from various other control systems around the vehicle to decide if switching off the engine is appropriate — such a calculation is made in milli-seconds. If, for any reason, the car’s battery levels drops below 75% of maximum, or there is insufficient energy available for the next start-up, the system will abort the Stop & Go programme.

The engine automatically re-starts when the clutch is depressed and there is no delay in setting off, because it happens in less time than it takes to select first gear.

Kia Soul on way to NZ

October 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Soul fq

European car manufacturers took some notice on their home turf when the Kia Soul made its world debut at the Paris Motor Show recently. The new Soul had its turn on centre stage with some new styling and appeal, attracting bigger crowds at its unveiling than some more expensive competitors.

Described as a new kind of “urban crossover” by Peter Schreyer, Frankfurt-based Chief Design Officer for Kia Motors, the Soul is a five-seat, five-door car that will go on sale worldwide in early 2009, including New Zealand.

“There’s anticipation building for the arrival of the Soul, it is really going to bring some pizzazz into the marketplace,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager for Kia Motors New Zealand, who was at the Paris show to see the newcomer first hand.

“The reaction to the Soul has been phenomenal and Kia Motors has told us that customers are lining up around the world — there’s already a three-month waiting list in its home market in Korea. We are currently in discussions with the factory on the timing of its introduction to New Zealand next year.”

The Soul has been touted as a breakthrough model for Kia on its journey to become a design-led company making distinctive vehicles that people want to own. It has retained many of the design features of the original 2006 concept car, including the wrap-around glass — mimicking sports sunglasses – muscular wheel arches, space-age headlights and a slope-back roofline. It also features the new corporate front end styling by Peter Schreyer that will become a signature of all Kia cars in the future.

Special customised packages will enable owners to personalize their Soul with equipment and interiors to match their tastes and lifestyles. Among the packages will be ‘Soul Burner’ with a red-black interior. The hi-fi, mp3 compatible audio system also comes with lighting effects that can be programmed to change — for example, the Club option dims and brighten the audio lights in time with the music. In addition to the large luggage area, there are 14 storage zones designed into the cabin, including a special area for mobile phones, as well as numerous drink holders.

Kia has given the Soul ESP stability control and six airbags as standard. Power options include a choice of new generation, low emission 1.6-litre common rail diesel and 1.6-litre or 2-litre petrol engines, matched to either a sequential shift automatic transmission or 5-speed manual gearbox.

New Kia Sportage goes on sale

September 25th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

kia-sportage-fq

Kia is injecting more competition into the crossover market with the release of a new entry-level 2.0-litre petrol Sportage that has just gone on sale in New Zealand for $30,990.

The Kia Sportage 2.0 Urban comes with an automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive only, aimed at city drivers who want a roomy wagon, but don’t require the extra traction of a 4×4.

“We’ve called it the Urban, because that is where this particular Sportage is destined to spend its life, on city or town roads and the highway,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager for Kia Motors New Zealand. “The Urban has been introduced in response to demand from people who require space, functionality and ease of access, but don’t need off-road capability. “Typically, these buyers are young urban-dwelling families, business people and also older buyers looking for a wagon that has the benefits of an SUV — higher seating position, a practical interior at an affordable price.”

The Sportage Urban includes features such as climate air conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear knob, burglar alarm, trip computer and Electronic Stability Control (including ABS brakes and traction control). The package also includes power windows and mirrors, 16″ alloy wheels , a CD stereo system with MP3 compatibility, front and rear fog lights, Tiptronic-style auto transmission and 6 airbags (front, side and curtain).

The Sportage Urban is powered by Kia’s 16-valve DOHC, CVVT, 2.0-litre petrol engine, delivering 104kW of peak power @6000rpm and 184kW of torque @4500rpm, and a combined fuel consumption of 9.2L/100km (compared to 9.9L/100km for the 4×4 Sportage auto).

The new Urban spearheads the introduction of the facelifted Sportage range, with the remainder of these models to be introduced later.

The two diesel Sportage models – a 6-speed manual 4×4 and sportshift auto 4×2 —will land later and have some detailed changes to the common rail diesel engine, such as an upgraded variable geometry turbocharger that lifts the power output 27% to 104Kw @ 4000rpm and boosts torque by 25% to 305Nm @ 1800-to-2500rpm.

Other improvements include an upgraded diesel particulate filter that delivers even clear exhaust emissions.

The four-wheel-drive system on all 4×4 models continues unchanged, efficiently and effectively delivering torque to the rear wheels when the system detects slippage in the front wheels for improved driving on adverse road surfaces. Additionally, both axles can be locked to provide greater traction when conditions become more slippery — ideal for driving snow covered ski field roads.

More Kia Soul images and specs

September 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

kia-soul-production-model-fq

Kia’s new production-ready Soul will be on display at Paris Salon de l’Automobile in October with confirmation that the urban crossover will come to Europe in February 2009. No release date for Australia or New Zealand has been set.

Mainland left-hand drive Europe models will come with a choice 126ps diesel and petrol engines based on the DOHC engines already fitted to the European-built, Kia cee’d — with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, depending on model. Right-hand drive production is due to start in March 2009.

The diesel engine generates 126ps at 4,000rpm and maximum torque of 255Nm at 2,000rpm. The all-aluminium petrol engine also produces 126ps at 6,300rpm and 156Nm of torque at 4,200rpm.

Soul is a five-door hatchback with front-wheel drive, a high roofline and an unusually long wheelbase. The key elements behind Soul’s appearance are its vertical measurements. Overall height is 1,610 mm but the base of the windscreen is 135mm higher than a typical compact car, the hip-points are 120mm higher and the ground clearance is raised by 45mm.

Access to the new Kia Soul’s spacious interior is designed to be easy and the cabin will deliver head, leg and shoulder room that matches or beats many larger vehicles.

Looking ahead to the Paris Show debut, Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer, Kia Motors Europe, commented: “Soul is about surprise and style and the experience of sitting in the Soul is unique. First impressions will make a big impact. Tall doors and high-mounted seats make for easy access and an airy interior, yet the ‘laid-back’ dashboard design, triple dial instrument cluster and thick-rimmed steering wheel create an unusual combination of spaciousness for passengers and cosiness for the driver generating a very special ambience.”

Soul will make its world premiere on the Kia stand (No 520, Hall 5) at the Paris International Motor Show at 16.45 hrs on 2 October 2008.

Soul will be manufactured at Kia’s Gwangju facility in Korea from November 2008. In the USA and several non-European markets a 2-litre, 142ps petrol engine will also be available.