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Kia America Has Best Ever Q1 Sales

Kia America has announced its sales results for March 2023 as well as for Q1 and the results are quite impressive. The first quarter of 2023 represents Kia America’s best sales quarter, ever! March 2023 was Kia’s second best monthly sales total ever as well. It is undeniably good news for the brand and as usual the sales numbers reveal some interesting trends.

Let’s dive into those numbers a bit and see what’s going on. First Kia’s US sales for Q1, of all vehicles, totalled 184,136, up 15% over the previous record from 2021. March sales were 71,294 specifically, up nearly 20% over the same period last year and 7% higher than the previous March record. This was also Kia’s eighth consecutive month of record-breaking sales and 4 of its models had their best-ever March sales totals (Carnival up 81%, Sportage up 37%, Telluride up 23%, Forte up 14%). Clearly, Kia is on a roll.

As an electric vehicle fan, I am particularly interested in Kia’s electrified vehicle sales figures for March and Q1. Note that subtle difference, electrified sales, not electric. Kia’s electrified sales were up 10% over the same period last year, but which electrified vehicles were responsible for that respectable surge and how did March, versus the quarter as a whole, pan out for Kia’s electrified vehicle sales?

The interesting thing is this: in March, all of Kia’s electric vehicle (EV) sales were down, way down, with EV6 sales down about 320%, year over year, and Niro sales down about 45%, year over year. That means both the EV6 and the Niro EV were not driving this positive growth, or at least the EV6 wasn’t. I can only estimate that the Niro EV sales were down, technically, because its combined model sales are all that Kia reports and for March they were down over 1,200 units, year over year, and I estimate that to mean about 370 fewer Niro EVs were sold last month, compared to March 2022. However, saying that doesn’t exactly paint an accurate picture when you look at the sales figures for the quarter. Q1 this year compared to last shows Kia Niro sales were up almost 7% (though EV6 sales were down almost 56%).

What this means is that Kia’s electrified vehicle sales growth in the US continues to be from hybrids and not EVs. More specifically, it means that the Sportage Hybrid (HEV) first and foremost, and to a lesser extent the plug-in hybrid (PHEV), as well as the Sorento PHEV and HEV models, are the primary driver of Kia’s electrified vehicle sales growth in the US (with only a small quarterly sales bump from the Niro combined model sales increase). I estimate that the Sportage, with combined sales of all models up 37%, sold at least a few thousand more HEV and PHEV variants. I also estimate the Sorento HEV and PHEVs, which were up a little over 10%, sold a few to several hundred more units than March last year. Kia currently has no other electrified models on sale in the US and my estimates are likely to be close considering how negative the EV6 sales figures are, how mild the Niro and Sorento sales bumps are and how significant the Sportage sales increase is. Of course the reality could be that more HEV or PHEV Sorento’s sold than I think, but even then it would be unlikely that the Sorento is the #1 driver of Kia’s electrified sales growth, rather than (one of) its runner(s) up.

Do you think that Kia is ceding its competitive edge in the EV market space to other brands? Is it perhaps just biding time, sparing some battery capacity for its upcoming EV model launches (like the EV9) later this year? Please leave your comments and questions below.

Images via Kia and Justin Hart.

Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.