Sorry, Stonic - Kia's Got All the Small Vehicles It Needs In the U.S.
If you’re an aspiring B-segment crossover owner looking for Korean value and a fresh face, but aren’t exactly enamored with the 2018 Hyundai Kona‘s looks, you’re out of luck. For now, anyways. The Kia Stonic, revealed in Europe earlier this summer, is definitely not making the boat ride to America. Well, probably definitely.
The automaker says it has no current plans to offer the subcompact crossover — which is arguably better looking than the U.S.-bound Kona — to utility-crazed on this side of the ocean. It’s clear Kia isn’t so sure of the extent of Americans’ appetite for non-cavernous vehicles.
That’s the official word from a Kia representative who spoke to Autoblog, though it was clear the automaker had the European market in mind just from the circumstances of the launch.
“By volume, the B-SUV market is expected to overtake the C-SUV segment by 2020,” said Michael Cole, chief operating officer of Kia’s European division, at the unveiling. Certainly, fuel prices and taxation means European buyers favor small vehicles more than their North American counterparts. Kia neglected to mention the U.S. during the reveal, though the Stonic remains a global model.
The Stonic, which dispenses with the Kona’s excessive bodyside cladding and stacked headlamps, shares a platform with the recently revamped Kia Rio. Couple that model with the long-running Soul and the bottom of the brand’s lineup starts getting crowded. Subcompact crossovers aren’t on track to surpass C-segment sales in the U.S. anytime soon.
As well, the Soul remains a massive hit in America. Sales reached 145,768 units in the U.S. last year, and August 2017 sales were the model’s highest since the same month two years prior. Splitting those sales between two models, assuming no new B-segment buyers can be lured into the Kia fold, wouldn’t be an attractive proposition for Kia.
As TTAC sales analyst Tim Cain remarked, “A CR-V/RAV4 does above 3oK sales a month in the U.S., while top sellers in this category do maybe 10K, though most do far less.” Kia, hedging its bets, will surely use its sister division’s Kona as a yardstick to gauge market demand for the Stonic. You’ll note the Kia representative said the company had no “current” plans for offering it here. That could change.
[Image: Kia Motors]
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Kia Australia has been saying that they won't be getting the Stonic either, but instead, will be getting another small crossover in about 18 months time. Find that puzzling as would be odd for Kia to develop 3 different subcompact crossovers (one for the developing markets, one for Europe and one for Australia and presumably NA). Anyhow, there's a good chance that the next gen Soul will be getting AWD (even if it is an e-AWD system).