A name change for Kia Motors America’s best-selling model is not in the cards, despite the introduction of a replacement model next year and a coupe to follow.
“I would say that’s extremely unlikely,” spokesman Alex Fedorak says of a new moniker for the compact Kia Spectra, which recorded 7,131 unit-sales through June, marking a 2.6% gain over year-ago, according to Ward’s data.
Parent Kia Motors Corp. is expected to release an image of its next-generation compact sedan July 2.
A recent media report quotes a Kia Motors Corp. executive saying the Spectra name might be killed. Fedorak says Kia in South Korea is replacing its “Cerato” sedan name with “Forte,” but the Spectra name will stay in the U.S.
However, KMA is unable to confirm the arrival of a production Koup, based on the concept car shown at this spring’s New York auto show, which may be called the Spectra Coupe.
Fedorak does say it’s “looking strongly” that the next-generation Spectra will not have a hatchback variant.
The upcoming, similarly functional C-segment Soul cross/utility vehicle, due early next year in the U.S., “probably” is the reason for the Spectra hatch’s dismissal, he says.
As with sister-brand, Kia is benefiting from the switch to smaller vehicles as gas prices continue their meteoric rise.
For example, while sales of the Kia Rondo multipurpose vehicle fell last month by almost 50% to 2,172, year-to-date deliveries show a healthy increase as consumers downsized from large trucks and SUVs. Through June, Rondo deliveries totaled 15,974 units, a 37.4% jump vs. like-2007.
“Rondo’s kind of been rediscovered,” Fedorak says of the MPV, launched in the U.S. in early 2007 and sold as the Carens overseas. “People are saying, ‘I need seven seats and some utility.’”
He admits there’s “a lot of evaluation going on internally” regarding some of the auto maker’s less fuel-efficient models, as well as a future diesel engine for the soon-to-be-launched Borrego midsize SUV.
“It’s not that it’s necessarily delayed,” Fedorak says of the diesel option. Rather, Kia is “looking at where our plans were” prior to the run-up in gas prices. “The only thing I can tell you for sure is it will be in this iteration (of Borrego).”
Kia earlier said there would be a 1-year gap between the Borrego’s on-sale date and the diesel model’s arrival.
Not everything is on hold. KMA officially opened its new $130 million headquarters and design center last week in Irvine, CA. While many Kia officials, including Fedorak, have been working from the new KMA campus since early this year, the design center staff only took up residency in May.
Approximately 400 employees are housed at the new campus, which includes sales and marketing, public relations, consumer affairs and research and development.
There is room to accommodate another 200 workers on the campus, which brags an eco-friendly system that removes pollutants from parking-lot runoff water and uses the water to irrigate plants and for restroom toilets.
In addition to the design studio, there is a modeling studio with room for eight prototypes; a paint booth; wood/metal shop; and 2-D and 3-D presentation rooms, the latter with windows that allow in natural light. In that same vein, there is an outdoor courtyard for private viewing.
With the new design studio now in place, KMA aims to take greater control over the brand’s design direction, both here and abroad, says chief designer Tom Kearns.