Eyeing Its Ridiculously Car-heavy Lineup, Kia Promises the U.S. a New Small Crossover

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
eyeing its ridiculously car heavy lineup kia promises the u s a new small crossover

A subcompact crossover will appear on U.S. shores next year, Kia claims, in order to create a new entry point below the Sportage. It’s also a vehicle consumers in India are eager to learn more about. Before you start calling it the Korean EcoSport, however, be aware that this is a new crossover, and U.S.-bound production will take place in South Korea, not the subcontinent.

While last year’s release of the Kia Stonic sparked assumptions that the diminutive utility vehicle would find its way here, that proved not to be the case. The new vehicle will be based on Kia’s SP Concept, which shares its mechanicals with the Indian-market Hyundai Creta, a name that inspires as many visions of a Greek island as it does actor Richard Crenna.

In China, the SP’s platform mate carries the ix25 moniker, though Dominican Republic customers receive a version called the Cantus, as “creta” is apparently a term used to describe part of the female anatomy. The SP concept premiered at India’s 2018 AutoExpo in February.

Speaking to Automotive News, Kia Motors Corp. CEO Han-Woo Park said plans are afoot to bolster the brand’s utility vehicle sales in the United States. Year-to-date, light trucks account for only 41 percent of the brand’s U.S. volume. Meanwhile, Kia fields the Rio, Forte, Optima, Cadenza, Stinger, and K900. That ratio needs flipping.

“We expect our performance in the U.S. market to rebound soon,” Park said.

The unnamed small crossover will arrive in the second half of 2019, Park said, hot on the heels of the U.S.-built Telluride SUV. There’s a chance that, after doubling the number of Kia utility vehicles in U.S. showrooms (the Soul and Niro are too conventional to fall under this category), the brand might not stop there. More light truck models are under consideration, including a pickup truck. However, Park admits that, given Americans’ thirst for established truck lines and heritage, a Kia truck could be a tough sell.

Kia’s plan is to increase its car to truck sales ratio to 40:60, which is still below the nationwide sales average of 31:69. Achieving this will probably take three years, Park said.

More crossovers would mean more sales, greater margins, and higher average transaction prices for Kia, which saw its year-to-date sales slip 1.3 percent in 2018 following years of annual increases.

[Image: Kia Motors]

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  • Orick Orick on Oct 29, 2018

    Isn't the Niro the new subcompact crossover for Kia?

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Oct 30, 2018

    A bit odd that the US/NA and Australian markets will be getting this and didn't get the Stonic. Hope this doesn't mean that the next Soul won't be getting AWD.

  • 28-Cars-Later I would think this is a good thing. Assuming typical Chrysler resale hits the Hornet, its pretty close to an Alfa for less.
  • Luke42 I charge at home whenever I can using a 220V outlet in my garage and a Tesla Mobile Charger.Charging at home is *much* cheaper than DCFCs, and also more convenient. DCFCs are just for roadtrips. Superchargers (and other DCFCs) cost about 3x charging at home, so they're only worth it if you're on a roadtrip.My local grid is also pretty clean -- MISO can be as much as 48% wind + nukes (both zero-emissions) on a good day. A typical day is 1/3rd zero-emissions, 1/3rd NG, and 1/3rd coal.Every EV owner who can charge at home does, because it's the best way to charge.
  • Inside Looking Out Solar energy. It is in abundance in California.
  • 28-Cars-Later Hydroelectric of course.
  • Spookiness I have the ugly 2010 model with old fashioned 4AT and is has been the best used car I've owned, and for the longest. Still quite solid at 150k. I keep my eyes open for a 2012+ MT, but they are hard to find. DCT, no way. It's a shame bc otherwise the car is good.