Crossover Injection Aids Kia's COVID Recovery

crossover injection aids kias covid recovery

U.S. sales results, at least those that we know of, were a mixed bag in July. Automakers foreign and domestic are busy replenishing inventories drained by a two-month shutdown of U.S. manufacturing; for many, the restocking can’t come soon enough.

At Kia Motors’s West Point, Georgia plant, production of the Telluride crossover got underway again in May, and the automaker can barely keep up with demand. Cox Automotive (via CNN) reported two weeks ago that the country’s Kia dealers report an average 15-day supply of the unexpectedly popular model. That’s tight, to say the least.

But the Telluride isn’t the only vehicle lifting Kia’s fortunes in the wake of the shutdown.

It may have gone unnoticed by many, but the brand added a new crossover this year: the Seltos — a subcompact offering that’s already adding meaningful volume to Kia’s sales sheet. Last month, Kia sold more than 4,500 of them. Some 18,585 units were sold since late January.

Kia’s U.S. July sales fell only 1.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, which is a good showing in an industry still struggling to retain its balance. Just one month before, Kia’s sales were off 15.7 percent. In Canada, Kia posted its best July sales showing ever, with volume up 3.7 percent. The Seltos rose to become the brand’s third best-selling model.

Amazingly, June was the brand’s best month ever in that country.

But the star here really is the midsize Telluride, which arrived at dealers in late February 2019. Fanfare quickly ensued. Even with a marauding virus and unemployment several times higher than it was last July, Kia’s U.S. arm sold more Tellurides last month than it did the year before — 4,822 vs 4,559. It’s no wonder the automaker is reportedly working on a new top-end trim for the model.

Elsewhere in Kia’s U.S. lineup, crossovers are holding their own. The Sportage and Sorento, despite the latter being due for a bold 2021 replacement, each came within a few hundred units of last July’s tally. The Soul bested last July’s figure. And a good thing, too, as passenger cars — an already shrinking field that suffered more than others during the height of the spring lockdown — have not recovered to past levels.

Last month saw the midsize Optima sold alongside its fresh-faced replacement, the K5, so it’s too early to see whether the sedan’s new look and sporty nature reinvigorates the segment.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 08, 2020

    How is the 3.8L V6 in the Kia Telluride aspirated? Abbott: "Naturally." Costello: "Naturally." Abbott: "Now you've got it."

  • PeriSoft PeriSoft on Aug 10, 2020

    Local Kia place has 3 regular Niros, 2 hybrid/EV Niros, 3 Sorentos, 1 Soul, 1 Sportage, 1 Seltos, 1 Stinger, four base K5s, 3 base Optimas, and zero Tellurides. Ouch. (Oh, the the Stinger is a blazing orange GT2. $53k MSRP, offered at $47k.)

  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.
  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.