On Wednesday, Kia confirmed to it’s American dealers that they will be getting a version of the full sized rear wheel drive flagship sedan Kia sells as the K9 in Korea and as the Quoris in other markets. The sedan will be called the K900 in North America and it will be the first RWD sedan that Kia has sold in the U.S.
The K900 will feature advanced safety technologies, luxury features and over 400 horsepower. Dealers who attended Kia’s national dealer meeting in Las Vegas were told that the overall package will be sized to compete with the BMW 7 Series, while it will be priced more like a 5 Series car from the Bavarian luxury marque, with a base MSRP expected to be between $50,000 and $70,000. Don Hobden, chairman of Kia’s national dealer council, said the K900 will arrive at dealer showrooms in early 2014. Kia will be promoting the new luxury car with ads during the 2014 Super Bowl, happy with the results from previous years of ads during the American football championship broadcast.
Dealers were told that Kia expects to sell about 5,000 K900 units in 2014. The car shares a platform with the Equus, Hyundai’s flagship sedan. The sales projection is a bit more optimistic than the two to three thousand Equus units that Hyundai originally expected in its first year of sales in the U.S. The introduction of the K900 will follow the introduction of Kia’s current most expensive car, the Cadenza, by less than a year, which speaks to how seriously Kia wants to be seen as a seller of premium, as opposed to cheap, cars.
Ken Phillips, who owns Kia dealerships in Tacoma, Washington and in the greater Los Angeles area, predicted that the car will change consumers’ image of Kia, “When people see it, Kia will quit being the butt of the joke because this is an amazing machine. It’s going to be quite an amazing car. That’s a car that when you get the right person in the showroom and they get behind the wheel, they’re going to want to take it home.”
Phillips revealed that the K900 will offer a 290 hp 3.8 L V6 and a 420 hp V8 from Hyundai-Kia’s Tau family of engines, backed by an 8 speed automatic transmission that is already being used in some markets. Other features will be adaptive LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, a premium audio system with 17 speakers, and cruising speed, turn-by-turn directions and other information made available to the driver via a heads-up display.
When the K900 arrives, the launch will start at a limited number of dealers on the West Coast, in Florida and in the Northeast and the K900 may not be sold at all Kia stores . As with the Hyundai Equus, dealers will have to have special showroom displays and their personnel will have to undergo special customer service training before Kia will let them sell the flagship. “There was a distinct message that their expectation is that it won’t go to all Kia stores,” Hobden said. “It will be strategic.” One reason for limiting the number of dealers is that Kia wants to be sure that stores that sell the premium sedan will have sufficient inventory. Though Kia has had strong sales in the U.S., inventory and supply issues have been an issue.