This accomplishment indicates that Kia’s doing something right, right? In the simplest regards, yes, absolutely, Kia is selling more vehicles in the US than it ever has before. But as usual, we need to read between the lines a little, and study the numbers, to see more clearly what the whole story is behind Kia’s latest press release.
What does Kia seem to be doing right? Design and value (in the sense of getting more for your money) seem like obvious wins for Kia. Kia’s 3 most popular vehicles (as evidenced by their year to date sales compared to last year) are the: Sportage, Forte and Telluride. Two of these are award winning SUVs, and Americans are head over heels in love with SUVs which gives them inherent sales potential. Add to this the Forte, which is Kia’s lowest priced vehicle (after Kia discontinued the Rio) and we are starting to see a recipe for success. All these vehicles might be described as generally “good looking” or well designed inside and (or) out, visually. As shallow as that might sound, it isn’t unreasonable to think that shoppers form their first opinions based on what they experience visually, both inside and out of their potential new vehicles. Bold designs coupled with lower prices (typically) means ones’ dollars go further, when buying a Kia. Add Kia’s industry leading warranties, first to market status with critically well received products like the EV9 (the lowest price 3-row EV SUV on sale in the US currently), and you can see that Kia’s success is due to a combination of specific efforts they have employed.
Kia, along with its sister companies Hyundai and Genesis, is also a leader (among legacy automakers) in the electrification of its model line. Some may say that is debatable, but with 6 of the 11 different models Kia currently lists for sale (and hasn’t announced cancellation of) either available or soon to be available as EVs or a form of hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and or standard hybrid (HEV), that means more than half of Kia’s lineup has been/will soon be electrified. Those 6 models are: the EV9, EV6, Niro, Sorento, Carnival (debuting as a hybrid for the 2025 model year) and Sportage.
Let’s look at Kia’s sales figures for November, and break them down a bit. Kia surpassed 700,000 annual units sold (722,176) in the US for only the second time last month and surpassed its previous annual sales record at the same time. Their total sales for November were up 3% compared to the same month last year (a more modest increase when looking at it this way). Once again, Kia’s electric (not electrified, per se) cars saw a healthy increase in sales compared to November last year. Here is where we need to really dig into the numbers though because there is a lot of interesting detail that is otherwise glossed over. First, Kia sold its first 5 EV9 units in the US last month. That number is insignificant of course, but the fact that deliveries to customers have begun is exciting news. Next, Kia’s popular EV6 saw its sales up 101%, compared to November 2022. That sounds fantastic, but even though it is good news, EV6 sales are still down for the year, cumulatively, compared to last year. Unless Kia can move several hundred more EV6’s than it did last month before the end of the year, EV6 sales will decline for 2023 as a whole compared to 2022. Kia’s third (or should I say first) EV is the Niro EV and its sales are not broken out from its hybrid versions. But Niro models collectively have sold almost 9,000 more units in 2023 than they did in 2022, so far. In the relatively small numbers that the Niro sells compared to Kia’s top 3 models, this may not seem significant. But if Kia ends the year with another strong month of Niro sales, it could end up with something like a 50% increase in sales for the 2023 calendar year, compared to 2022. Projecting a little bit to estimate the total number of EVs Kia may sell in 2023, I estimate that Kia may reach somewhere around 32,000 total EV sales in the US between its 3 EV models now on sale. That wouldn’t be a big increase compared to Kia’s 2022 figures, but an increase nonetheless. With Kia ramping EV9 production next year, and hopefully introducing additional EV (and hybrid) models, Kia should be able to continue these trends for EVs and other electrified vehicles in the coming year.
What do you think about Kia’s sales figures? Do they influence your opinion of Kia as a brand of of their EVs? Please leave your questions or comments below.
Images courtesy of Kia.
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 Torque News Kia or X for regular electric and hybrid news coverage.