The Kia Picanto could be available in Australia this year.
The Kia Picanto could be available in Australia this year.

Change is name of the game for Kia Australia

CHANGE is literally the name of the game for Kia Australia this year.

The marque has an ambition to achieve 5% total market share in Australia, but has challenges ahead to fulfil expectations.

One of the key agenda items is the naming convention.

Under consideration is a 'K' naming structure, similar to the nomenclature system used by BMW and Mazda.

"I would love Picanto (not available yet in Australia) to be K1, Rio to be K2, Cerato to be K3, Sportage be KV3 and Sorento to be KV5. I'd be the happiest man in the world," Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith (pictured right) said.

"I think that would help dramatically with the brand perception of Kia in Australia. I have only been there seven months ... and I have presented that to Seoul.

"It is something that would be great for the brand.

"I think it makes sense. I'm going to keep pushing it. Simple for the consumer, simpler for the dealer network, simpler for everyone to understand."

Other global markets have the 'K' moniker, and if approved future vehicle generations could wear the new name.

Kia Australia's Damien Meredith.
Kia Australia's Damien Meredith.

Yet foremost on the schedule is shifting opinion.

Kia has undergone monumental change in recent times, with the appointment of former Audi penman Peter Schreyer to chief design officer in 2006 pivotal to a changing image.

Under his guidance the entire Kia line-up has been revitalised with a European edge.

Mr Meredith recognised Kia still has a "cheap and cheerful" image among many Australians.

"Kia has been on sale in Australia for too long," Mr Meredith said.

"We have wonderful product. We have to get that message across to the Australian consumer. The brand at the moment is not in a strong position ... all the studies we see and the feedback we get show we have a hell of a lot of work to do.

"My emphasis is on the product and not on the pricing."

Marketing will push the quality message and while remaining competitive, Mr Meredith emphasised there is no plan to build market share through discounting.

The 2015 Kia Carnival.
The 2015 Kia Carnival.

With the Rio moving up a rung to become a competitor to the Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris and VW Polo, it's left space for the more compact Picanto.

Mr Meredith said the move to an industry-leading seven-year warranty had demonstrated confidence in the vehicles which will also lead to an assured used car program being launched mid-year.

"We wanted to be a leader in some aspect of the business. I don't think there is any doubt, a seven-year warranty is going to be one of the great things for Kia in Australia.

"It sends a message to the consumer that we have amazing faith in our product."

Did you know?

  • Hyundai is Kia's parent company and has been since 1998
  • In Australia Kia's market share was 2.0% last year, down slightly from 2.1% in 2013.
  • Founded in 1944, the marque started as a parts maker for bicycles
  • Kia was bankrupt in 1997, then in 1998 Hyundai acquired 51% of the company
  • Kia Motors Corporation's brand value has risen by 480% since 2007, from US$929 million to US$5.4 billion

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