Crossover Injection Aids Kia's COVID Recovery

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.)

  • Loser What’s next, simulation of the “Hemi tick”?
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