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Can the new Kia Sportage, Cerato and Stonic push Kia ahead of Hyundai to be the third most-popular car brand in Australia?

The all-new Cerato is expected to continue to push Kia’s sales figures to new heights.

Kia Australia is on a roll, having released several key new models in recent months including the all-new Stonic, e-Niro and updated Cerato and Carnival.

It also has the new-look Sportage and ground-breaking EV6 set to hit showrooms by the end of the year. Plus, on top of that, it has a new logo to mark a turning point in its transformation from fringe to mainstream brand.

These new models and steady growth across the majority of its range has pushed it up the sales charts.

We’ve previously written that Kia was on course to push past both Ford and Mitsubishi on the sales charts by the end of 2021, but it now looks like we may have underestimated.

Kia is actually in a close contest with its parent brand, Hyundai, for third place in the sales race, behind only the Toyota juggernaut and Mazda. This is a major achievement for a brand that wasn’t even in the top 10 in sales five years ago.

According to the latest sales figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) released for May, Kia has sold 30,004 vehicles in the first five months of the year – only 1273 behind Hyundai.

In May sales alone, Kia was actually ahead of Hyundai by 674 units, a first for the year.

Importantly, Kia’s success hasn’t come because Hyundai has hit problems. On the contrary, it has enjoyed a strong start to the year, rebounding from the troubles of 2020 with a 35 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Hyundai has also introduced some key models in the recent past, including the updated i30 hatch and new i30 Sedan, fresh Kona, new Tucson, new Santa Fe and all-new Palisade.

Kia has undoubtedly benefited from Hyundai’s decision to focus on compact SUVs over its more affordable small cars – cutting the Accent and pushing the i30 more upmarket – with the Picanto and Rio adding small but meaningful numbers to Kia’s total. By maintaining these models in addition to adding the Stonic, Niro and Seltos to match Hyundai’s Venue and Kona, Kia has given itself a potential advantage.

In order to rein in its ‘big brother’ by the end of the year, Kia will need to maintain its strong start to the year. Thankfully the arrival of the updated Cerato and the pending launch of the new Sportage in October are reasons for optimism.

Officially Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith says he isn’t focused on beating Hyundai and is only worried about doing the best Kia can do.

But if this battle remains tight as the year carries on it could represent a significant moment in the evolution of Kia and cement its place as one of the biggest brands in the country.