What do you first think of when you hear the brand Kia? If we asked this question fifteen years ago, we’d bet most people would say low-cost, low-quality cars. This is a perception that has stuck with the brand over the years, but is there any truth to it?
Today Kia is making some of the highest quality and innovatively designed cars on the market. Their bold designs and clever advertising campaigns directed towards younger buyers have propelled the company in recent years, but not without adversity. For many of the potential buyers we encounter, there is still the nagging impression that you’re getting what you pay for: a cheap car.
According to our sales manager, James Costello, he thinks the problem lies in peoples’ perceived notion of what quality is, commenting “The ‘quality’ of a product often is one of perception vs. reality, or what once may have been true continues to be true regardless of a basis in fact.”
In the case of Kia, this couldn’t be more relevant as the brand continues to try and rebound from the bad reputation that it has been associated with.
A Brief History
The Kia Motor brand has been around since 1944, but it wasn’t until 1994 that their vehicles were introduced to the US market. At the time, their objective was to provide affordable cars to American buyers. By debuting their vehicles on this platform, Kia became known as a “cheap” brand with poor quality vehicles, a perception that has lingered almost seventeen years later.
However, just four years after their introduction to the American market, Kia was bought out by fellow South Korean auto company, Hyundai. Since then, Hyundai has made major efforts to reinvent the Kia brand, steering away from the negative connotations that had been holding it back.
Since Hyundai has taken over, Kia has gone through a tremendous transformation. While providing affordable cars is still within the brand image, Hyundai has tackled new goals for the company, among which is a focus on quality and design aesthetics. After bringing on former Audi designer, Peter Schreyer, Kia has stepped to the forefront of innovative and dynamic car design. Now Kia is not only making cars you can afford to drive, but ones you want to drive.
They have also shown a serious commitment to enhancing the quality of their cars. In the latest issue of Consumer Reports
“Best & Worst New Cars” the Soul, Forte, and Sorento models all ranked as recommended.” The Optima was also honored as Car.com’s “Best of 2011,” and the Sorento was featured in US News and World Report’s “Best New Cars of 2011.” They’re even boasting higher standards in safety with the Optima, Soul, Sorento, and Sportage all receiving IIHS’ highest ratings.
The new look of the brand is not only catching the eyes of consumers, but is also developing stronger confidence in their cars. That is perhaps why Kia is experiencing the largest amount growth over recent years than any of their competitors. In 2010, Kia saw record sales and market share gains thanks in part to its lineup of four new vehicles which have pushed forth their new image of performance, technology, and safety at great values.
While there are still some skeptics, here at Capitol Ford Kia we’re finding a lot more customers being surprised by what the newest models of Kia have to offer.
“We invite our past and future customers to shop and compare,” says Costello. “You’ll see why ‘The Power To Surprise’ automaker is alive and well.”