By on August 7, 2020

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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9 Comments on “Crossover Injection Aids Kia’s COVID Recovery...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    That lede photo was taken not far from where I live…near Point Mugu, just north of Malibu. I drive that road daily, and very frequently see filming crews on that section of Pacific Coast Highway. Jim Rockford’s Firebird cruised this section of the highway, as did Cheech And Chong in Up in Smoke, if memory serves–kinda foggy, man!. –Many, many Hyundai/Kia marketing stills are taken here, as well as countless Cadillac ad pics.

    The approx location is here:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0848217,-119.0522783,3a,75y,67.15h,64.27t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1spyyRZEa70DcDHRjT1qslFg!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

    If travel to Los Angeles ever is in your plans, rent a Mustang convertible at LAX. This location is only about 90 minutes away. If you like exotic car spotting, the Point Mugu Lookout parking lot (about 1/4 mile west) is as good a place as any to see many thoroughbred exotics on a sunny day.

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      Lived on Port Hueneme in 2004-05. Can confirm, this stretch of road was and is still used for TV and film quite often.

      A fantastic drive as well. We’d take my wife’s e46 and drive to the Santa Monica Pier, just to shoot photos along the way,and then drive back to get sunset shots.

      The PCH: the most famous road in the US? Maybe the world?

  • avatar

    How many Tellurides were sold in 2019 or 2020 compared to Explorer? I have a feeling that not even close.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      U.S. sales in 2019:
      – Kia Telluride 58,604
      – Hyundai Palisade 28,736
      – Ford Explorer 184,653

      Nothing to see here, relax, Ford. (Inside Looking Out’s business advice to Jim Farley?)

      But, hmmm, let’s see…
      U.S. sales in 2018:
      – Kia Telluride -0-
      – Hyundai Palisade -0-
      – Ford Explorer 250,690

      Perhaps there is a story here after all.

      And oh yeah, those 2019 figures aren’t full-year for Kia/Hyundai (production started in early 2019 and you have to fill the pipeline).

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Ford did model changeover in 2019 (were there any hiccups? I don’t remember).

        Anyway, Ford has nothing to worry about and Explorer will be back to 2000CY U.S. sales levels of 445,157 very soon.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Also, even with the increase in production to 100k for the Telluride, that still has to supply Canada and the Middle East, and the Palisade is a big seller in Korea and is sold in numerous other markets, so there are constraints on what is available for the US market.

          It has basically been sales of the Palisade, along with sales of the new G80 and the GV80 in Korea, which has propelled Hyundai to a profit for the past 2 quarters while most other automakers were in the red.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Neither Kia nor Hyundai has the production capacity of what Ford has for the Explorer.

      For the 2Q of 2019, the Explorer outsold the Telluride by more t H an a 2:1 margin when the Telluride was selling around 6k (basically maxing out sales based on production).

      For the past 2 months, the Telluride has been limited even more so by supply due to the change-over to the 2021MY, which is why the Palisade has outsold by a 2:1 margin (so only around 4k sold last month and less, the month prior, instead of the usual 6k/month).

      But for the 2021MY, Kia is expanding annual production capacity from 60k/yr to 100k/yr and still likely won’t meet demand.

      With increased production, combined sales of the Telluride and Palisade will not only surpass that of the Pilot, but should match that of the Highlander, and be only a bit behind the Explorer.

      But unlike the Explorer, the Koreans don’t have big incentives.

      In fact, over a year and a half since it launched, the Telluride is still selling for above MSRP, esp. the top SX-P trim.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    How is the 3.8L V6 in the Kia Telluride aspirated?

    Abbott: “Naturally.”

    Costello: “Naturally.”

    Abbott: “Now you’ve got it.”

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    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.)

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