Kia is adding a unique promotion to bolster sagging domestic sales of its K9 luxury sedan launched last May.
With monthly volumes at just a quarter of the original 2,000-unit target, the auto maker is looking to boost interest by providing uniformed chauffeur service to all K9 buyers as an incentive.
The K9 owner can apply in advance for the full-day use of a uniformed chauffeur up to three times during a 3-year period from the date of purchase. The service offer is retroactive to all 8,100 buyers of the car in Korea.
Another new and unique K9 spiff is free valet parking, and buyers also will get no-cost use of the prestigious Hub passenger lounge at the Incheon International Airport.
Additionally, K9 customers are eligible to receive free pickup and delivery when the vehicle is being serviced, a no-cost powertrain and electronics-systems inspection and free engine oil, air filters, fuel filters and other routine maintenance items. Owners can use this full service eight times during the 3-year period.
Demand for the K9 has been woeful of late, following an initial strong market response.
Kia sold 1,500 K9s in the first month of availability and 1,703 in June, making the 2,000-per-month target appear attainable. But demand plunged to 801 in August and 700 in September, with fourth-quarter sales averaging less than 500 units per month.
At launch, prices ranged from 52.3 million won ($48,140) for the base GDI Prestige version to 85.4 million won ($78,586) for the GDI President.
But in January, Kia added free top-of-the-line items such as heated and cooled seats, heads-up display and adaptive high-intensity discharge headlamps to the Prestige version without increasing the price. It also cut the sticker on its midlevel Executive model by nearly 3 million won ($2,700) to 55.3 million won ($50,888), while adding such features as head-up display and power trunk lift.
Neither move has had the desired effect. Only 500 units were sold in January.
A Kia spokesman tells WardsAuto the auto maker is adjusting its K9 sales targets.
Analysts say the car is having a rough ride in the domestic market not only as a result of the sluggish Korean economy, but also because buyers are embracing imports such as the7-Series and Mercedes Benz S-Class.
Those brands have lowered their prices as well and are increasing availability through their expanding dealer networks.
The K9 is available as the Quoris in some export markets in Africa, the Middle East and South America. There are no plans currently to sell the car in the U.S. or Europe, but shipments to China are slated to begin later this year.