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Speaking to CarsGuide at the launch of its flagship plug-in hybrid Sorento seven-seat SUV, Kia Australia seemed open to the idea of a longer warranty as it celebrates the anniversary of its seven-year promise.
After pioneering a seven-year and unlimited kilometre warranty in Australia, Kia has gradually been crept up upon by established players (in the form of Mitsubishi with its conditional 10-year warranty), fellow Korean rival SsangYong with a matching seven-year promise, and upstart rivals from China like Haval and MG, both of which also now have seven-year warranties.
When asked if the brand thinks the time has come to look at a longer warranty to keep its competitive edge, the brand’s local boss, Damien Meredith, explained that such conversations had already taken place.
“We’ve looked at 10-years, eight years, we’re always looking at what needs to be done in regard to warranty – we’re always crunching the numbers as to whether [longer warranty] is viable from a market point of view,” he said.
“For now, it’s important that we focus on the new brand direction rather than try to focus on two things at once.”
Kia is in the midst of a re-brand, rolling out its new logo across its range, and readying its transformation to a ‘purpose-built vehicle’ (PBV) specialist in the era of electrification. Its re-brand comes with a new catchphrase “movement that inspires.”
The brand has explained in the past that there is pressure to rapidly update its range in Australia with the new branding, which started with an early mild facelift for its Cerato sedan and hatch earlier this year.
On the topic of crunching the numbers though, Kia head of aftersales Phil Murray explained things had worked out well for its seven-year warranty thus far.
“In terms of cost-per-year, the overall study we did up until the sixth year – it’s showing well within those cost parameters, overall quality has done very well [for the vehicles],” Mr Murray said.
While the seven-year warranty was instrumental in pushing the brand up the sales ladder, Kia's marketing boss, Dean Norbiato, also explained the once-leading warranty had significantly dropped down the list of considerations for its buyers.
“For the first five and a half of the seven years it was the prime consideration, but manufacturing quality and design are now the number one and two reasons people are picking Kia. Instead of being an opener, it is now more of a closer on the dealer floor,” he said.
Next for Kia will be the launch of its Sportage mid-size SUV, which is long overdue for an update. The all-new generation model advances the brand’s styling approach further whilst bringing much-needed hybrid variants. It will shortly be joined by the EV6 in the first half of next year, which will be Kia’s first dedicated EV in Australia said to embody the brand’s new direction.