US: Kia’s design makeover sparks sales recovery image

The South Korean automaker lost some of its appeal last year, but the changes in the design department – seen as a major brand makeover – have brought back the interest of American buyers.

Kia is getting ready to celebrate two decades of presence on the US auto market. Coming up from the 2008-2009 recession, the South Korean brand quickly positioned as an affordable alternative to models from Toyota or Honda, taking advantage of the first’s wave of recalls and the latter’s uninspiring models.

“We’ve yet to gain the widespread acceptance of Honda and Toyota,” says Michael Sprague, Kia executive vice president of sales and marketing. “The truth is we have world-class quality but the perception lags.”

According to Sprague, the automaker’s main goal is to continue “moving forward,” and the forecasts for 2014 are very positive, with the official confident sales can climb above 2013’s 535,000 unit deliveries.

The executive also said the maker will have a busy year ahead, with the US introduction of the 2015 Sedona “Multi Purpose Vehicle” taking place this fall, followed by the Soul EV. Next up are new generations of the Optima and Sorento, coming next week during the Paris motor show. Also, late in 2015 the company will also unveil a new version of the Sportage Sport Utility Vehicle.