Kia Looking Into Building Its Own Crossover Utility Vehicle
The model will likely compete against the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, and the upcoming Toyota C-HRby Kirby, on
The rise of the SUV market, and by extension the sub-compact crossover segment, has paved the way for a lot of automakers to enter the market with confidence. Companies like Mazda and Honda are already entrenched in it with models like the CX-3 and the HR-V and now it appears that Kia is all set to join in on the fun with plans to launch its own crossover utility vehicle.
A report from Motoring Australia included comments from Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith, who hinted at the possibility of the Korean automaker developing a CUV that will ride on the same platform as the redesigned Kia Rio. Meredith added that based on design renderings that he has personally seen, the model will have some resemblances to the Provo concept car that the company unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The Kia exec stopped short of divulging too many details about the planned CUV, although to be fair, information is still at a minimum at this point. Heck, the CUV doesn’t even have name yet.
Meredith’s reference to the Provo concept also adds a layer of intrigue into the model, especially since Kia presented it as a small hatchback in Geneva three years ago, not as a CUV. Translating that design into a bigger body could be a challenge and there’s no telling how Kia plans to work around designing the CUV around the Rio’s underpinnings. Fortunately, one of Kia’s presidents happens to be Peter Schreyer, who is also the company’s chief design officer. If there’s anybody in the business that can work his way around an automotive design, it’s him.
No specific timetable has been set on when the Kia CUV will make its debut, but don’t be surprised if it arrives at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2016 or the Detroit Motor Show in January 2017.
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Why it matters
Kia’s move to offer a CUV is an expected development when you take into account that it’s biggest rivals are doing the same thing. Mazda and Honda have just launched the CX-3 and HR-V, respectively, and Toyota is about to do the same with the C-HR. The B-segment SUV market is a thriving market and Kia is smart for taking advantage of it.
That said, the plan doesn’t come without any risks, especially when you take into account the company’s current lineup. There are concerns, and rightfully so, that a Rio-based compact SUV could cannibalize sales of the Rio. Meredith addressed that in his conversation with Motoring Australia, acknowledging that Kia has to be careful with the development of the CUV to make sure that there’s a fine differentiation with the existing Rio while also conceding that there’s a part of that equation that is beyond its control. After all, Mazda is facing a similar issue as sales of the CX-3 has already cut into the sales of the Mazda2.
Personally, I think Kia needs to launch its own CUV despite the risks that come with it. I think that the Korean automaker would be foolish to skip out on a market that’s thriving at the moment. There’s a lot of potential for the CUV there and the upward trajectory of that market makes it worth the company’s time to fit its own model to compete against the likes of the CX-3, HR-V, and C-HR.
It makes sense in a macro point of view, and if it comes at the cost of turning people away from the Kia Rio, it’s still something that I think Kia needs to do. It might be a hard decision for Kia to make, but it shouldn’t be if the Korean automaker succeeds in giving the CUV its own identity relative to the compact car from which it will be based on.
Read our full review on the Kia Provo Concept here.