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Kia ute now set for 2022 launch

Kia Australia’s chief operating officer, Damien Meredith has confirmed the brand’s plan to introduce a full light commercial range, including a dual cab ute.

Kia Australia’s chief operating officer, Damien Meredith has confirmed the brand’s plan to introduce a full light commercial range, including a dual cab ute, now scheduled for 2022.

While prior reports have pointed to a possible 2020 introduction Mr Meredith told CarsGuide, “We’re more than confident that [Kia Motor Company] will give us a great light commercial range, but I think it’s 2022. And when it arrives… hallelujah.”

On the subject of whether any existing light commercial products in Kia’s global portfolio may be suitable for the Australian market, Mr Meredith is clear. “Brand new. Everything will be brand new, and we’ll start from scratch. A full range, cab-chassis, 4x4, 4x2.”

Asked whether the Australian team has had input into the light commercial vehicle (LCV) development process, Mr Meredith said, “We had Kia’s global head of sales (Global Operations Division executive vice-president and chief operations officer, Ho Sung Song) here in January.

“I gave Mr Song a number I felt we could sell initially, and after he picked himself up after falling off his chair, he clearly found it hard to comprehend that.

“But after visiting a few dealers and driving around Sydney, he was amazed how many LCVs were on the road.”

To the end of September this year, light commercial vehicles accounted for just under 20 per cent of new vehicles sold locally, with utes alone (4x4 and 4x2) representing more than 17 per cent of sales. 

Mr Meredith told CarsGuide Kia’s current Australian network of 132 dealers is set up to handle the extra throughput a likely 15-20 percent increase in volume would deliver.

“We’ve set our dealer network up to prepare for that. There won’t be too many more put on to cover when we get a light commercial. And there will definitely be a [positive] impact on throughput and profitability in the network.”

Asked whether a large ute would negatively impact the brand’s ability to comply with current or future emissions regulations, Mr Meredith said, “We’re committed to an EV strategy, and obviously it’s on the average, but we can bring [overall emissions] down to what’s required in terms of government legislation.”

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