Kia fills a value niche after a Rio upgrade, writes Paul Gover
THE tiny Kia Picanto will become the South Korean brand’s price leader in Australia. The compact Rio is going up in size and price later this year, following the Hyundai i20 across the $15,000 barrier, and the Picanto will fill its value spot.
A new Picanto will be revealed next month at the Geneva Motor Show, when Kia will also pull the covers off its next Rio.
But Kia Australia is already pushing hard to ensure the Picanto is an early arrival, even though it refuses to confirm its plan.
‘‘ So we are considering very seriously for the P i c a n t o , ’ ’ says M. K. Kim, the head of Kia in Australia.
‘‘Personally, I would like to bring it as soon as possible but I’m not sure when they can release that car for the Australian market. They have to consider the volume.’’
The Picanto has been assessed and rejected several times in the past, partly because the old car was not suitable for Australia and partly because it would have gone up against the Rio.
‘‘I think this is now the right time to bring the Picanto,’’ says Kim.
‘‘At the time, at the former price, it would not have been a big difference in the retail price. This is an all-new model in Geneva. It is built in South Korea.’’
Kim sees a showroom advantage in the Picanto but denies it is part of any blocking move against lowpriced Chinese brands, which begin to arrive in Australia later this year.
‘‘Last year, when I visited the Beijing Motor Show, I thought ‘the Chinese are coming’ and will be a big threat to Hyundai and Kia. But not right now. I think it will take four to five years.
‘‘The Chinese will be at the very bottom. Kia is looking to move up a bit in the scale.’’
Fresh: Picanto is an all-new model.