Kia starts to sell new K5s, including a sporty one

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Kia starts to sell new K5s, including a sporty one

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Kia Motor’s new K5 unveiled on a stage at COEX in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on Wednesday. [NEWSIS]

Three months after it unveiled the all-new exterior design of its best-selling K5 sedan at the Seoul Motor Show, Kia Motors started selling the car on Wednesday.

The nation’s second-largest automaker described the full features of the new K5 before about 200 reporters at COEX in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. It said it expects the new K5 to expand the company’s market share in the domestic sedan segment, which it has struggled with due to the growing popularity of SUVs and competition from imported cars.

“The K5 has been the symbol of Kia Motors’ design innovations,” said Park Han-woo, president of the company. “We believe this upgraded K5 will provide a new standard for a mid-size sedan in the country, and will make a strong impression in both the domestic and global market.”

The new K5 is a second-generation model and its most significant difference from its predecessor, which came onto the market in 2010, is its design. The company said the K5 will be offered in two different designs: the K5 MX (Modern Extreme) and K5 SX (Sporty Extreme). It is the first Korean car to be offered in two different designs.

The company said it invested 490 billion won ($428 million) to develop the car under a concept of “Advanced Sporty Sedan.” The MX targets the K5’s traditional customers, mostly people in their 40s and older, while the SX targets customers in their 20s and 30s. The company expects 60 percent of K5s sold to be SXs.

The K5 is offered with five different engines: the Nu 2.0 CVVL gasoline, U2 1.7 diesel, Gamma 1.6 GDi gasoline turbo, Theta II 2.0 gasoline turbo and Nu 2.0 LPi. But the Gamma 1.6 turbo and Theta gasoline turbo engines are only available in the SX. Among the five, the 2.0 CVVL gasoline and the 1.7 diesel models are expected to lead K5’s sales. The company said the 1.7 diesel provides the highest fuel efficiency of 16.8 kilometers per liter (39.5 miles per gallon) among the lineup and also offers 141 horsepower and 34.7 kilogram-meter (23.3 pound-feet) of torque, in combination with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

“The fuel efficiency offered by the diesel model overpowers rivals, including the Volkswagen Passat sedan, which offers 14.6 kilometers per liter,” said Kim Chang-sik, executive vice president of the domestic sales division. “Such improved efficiency will definitely help us bring back consumers we lost to imported cars [which have offered a series of fuel-efficient diesel engine sedans].”

The company didn’t hide its expectations that the K5 will boost its sales in both the domestic and global markets. The company said it received a total of 8,527 pre-orders in only three weeks as of Tuesday. Kia President Park said the company aims to sell 8,000 units of K5s per month in the remaining year and expects to sell 60,000 units annually in Korea from next year.

“We found that consumer demand for mid-size sedans has decreased by about 35 percent in the past four years with the growing popularity of SUVs and imported diesel sedans,” said Seo Bo-won, director of the domestic marketing group at Kia. “But we expect the K5 to boost the sales of sedans with some attractive options like a wireless smartphone charging system.”

But there are remaining concerns about the international market, in which the company has been struggling.

The company sold about 1.28 million units throughout June, a 3.1 percent drop from a year earlier when it sold 1.32 million cars.

“We know that the global market is tough due to the weak yen and euro, as well as slumping economies in newly industrialized nations, including China and Russia,” said Kia President Park. “But as we will start selling the K5 and will introduce a new Sportage SUV in the second half, we expect to bounce back. We announced in January that we aim to sell 3.15 million cars this year and the goal hasn’t changed.” The company sold 1.52 million cars through the first six months.


BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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