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Kia Goes Off-Roading with Trail’ster Concept

Kia testing waters for electric all-wheel-drive runabout.

by on Feb.12, 2015

Kia's Trail'ster Concept is ready for a winter romp. The concept debuting at the Chicago Auto Show is the maker's take on a rugged off-roader.

Can a “cute ute” also deliver some serious off-road credentials? That’s what Kia is determined to show with the Trail’ster Concept it’s debuting at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. It takes only a quick glance to recognize the show car is based on the familiar Kia Soul.

In Trail’ster trim, the quirky compact crossover gets not only the skid plate treatment, but also a rollback canvas roof. But even more intriguing is what Kia refers to as an eAWD system, something that has also been called “through-the-road” all-wheel-drive, with a turbo gas engine driving the front axle and an electric motor running the rear.

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With Kia and its sibling Korean brand Hyundai rolling out an assortment of new hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, might a production Trail’ster be in the offing? (more…)

Kia Teases Geneva Concept: Are You the New Optima?

Show car could feature battery-based drivetrain.

by on Feb.10, 2015

Kia offers a hint of what could be the next Optima.

Kia has some big news coming in Geneva. And it’s confirming plans to reveal a new concept vehicle it says it has “created as a spacious and versatile accessory to an active lifestyle.”

Unlike other Korean concept cars of the recent past, this D-segment, or midsize, show vehicle appears – at least from this teaser image – to be nearly ready for production, which suggests that it may very well be a thinly disguised version of the next-generation Kia Optima.

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It is, the maker, hints, “a purposeful, energetic design study for the style-conscious, and as a sanctuary from the stresses of the modern world.”

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Kia to Reveal Trail’ster “Rugged Runabout” in Chicago

Beefed up Soul concept is powered by e-AWD.

by on Feb.05, 2015

Kia's showing off its Trail'ster at the Chicago Auto Show. The Soul-based hybrid features a unique drivetrain.

Kia plans to blow into the Windy City next week with an intriguing concept vehicle it’s describing as a “rugged runabout.”

A terse release doesn’t reveal much, though it suggests that the Kia Trail’ster concept will attempt to blend the best of the maker’s gas and electric versions of the popular Soul, while adding a little more rugged capabilities.

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“Conceived at Kia’s California design studio,” the Korean carmaker says, the Trail’ster “re-imagines one of the brand’s most popular vehicles. Built for city dwellers seeking an adventurous escape and intended to enable a variety outdoor activities, this concept proves that practical urban wheels can also be rugged and capable.” (more…)

Hyundai Reveals $74 Billion Investment Plan

Annual spending will exceed previous record by 35%.

by on Jan.07, 2015

Hyundai Motor Group is going to invest about $74 billion into the company during the next four years.

In an effort to expand its line-up and add much-needed production capacity, Hyundai Motor Group plans to invest almost $74 billion over the next four years.

The move was announced barely a week after Chung Moon-koo, the chairman of the group that controls both Hyundai and Seoul-based affiliate Kia, forecast the group will see its slowest growth in a decade as it deals with increased competition and a weaker global economy. Hyundai officials have also said that once-booming growth has been restricted by limited production capacity in key markets including North America.

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At 81 trillion Korean won, the spending plan by the world’s fifth-largest automaker works out to a 35% annual increase for each of the four years compared with 2014’s previous record investment level of 14.9 trillion won. (more…)

Korean Carmakers Could See Growth Stall

Chairman forecasts tough year ahead.

by on Jan.02, 2015

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Mong-Koo Chung.

After nearly a decade of rapid sales growth, Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Group could be facing some serious headwinds in the year ahead.

Chung Moon-koo, the chairman of the group that controls both Hyundai and its Seoul-based affiliate, Kia, forecast the group will see its slowest growth in a decade as it deals with increased competition and a weaker global economy.

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During a New Year’s speech to employees, Chung predicted the world’s fifth-largest automaker will generate only 2.5% more sales in 2015. He also warned that the Hyundai Motor Group will need to cut costs, increase productivity and take other steps to cope with competition from Japanese makers like Toyota, Nissan and Honda who are benefiting from a cheap yen.

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First Drive: 2016 Kia Sorento

Maker’s new SUV aims to compete with Grand Cherokee, MDX.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Kia is debuting a revised and refined version of the Sorento, which will reach showrooms in January as a 2016 model.

In recent years, Kia has proven adept at reading consumer trends.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008-2009 recessions, the Korean automaker introduced the Kia Soul, a versatile, small vehicle designed to fit into tight urban spaces and appeal to the nascent “back-to-the-city” vibe among the rising millennial generation.

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As the demand for fuel efficiency has ebbed, Kia has deftly introduced its own version of practical luxury, the K900 earlier this year to catch the move towards expensive vehicle. Now with gas prices sinking and Americans clamoring for sport-utility vehicles, Kia is ready to bring on the revised and refined version of the Sorento, which will reach showrooms in January as a 2016 model. (more…)

Hyundai – Kia Sales to Hit Record 8 Million

But profits under pressure.

by on Nov.25, 2014

A fuel-cell version of the popular Hyundai Tucson went on sale in the U.S. market last summer.

Hyundai Motor Co. and its sibling Kia Motors Corp. are collectively heading for an all-time sales record of 8 million this year.

On the downside, Hyundai is facing serious pressure on earnings as the Korean won gains strength. That creates a disadvantage when compared to Japanese rivals who have watched earnings soar on the weak yen.

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“The market still does not look rosy,” Chung Mong Koo, who serves as chairman of both Hyundai and Kia, said in the statement. “Let’s overcome the unfavorable market situation and show our automobile industry’s competence.”

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SEMA Show Keeps America’s Love Affair with the Automobile Alive

Aftermarket business recovering after big recession hit.

by on Nov.10, 2014

Open wide: Toyota's "Sleeper Camry."

It looks like an ordinary, 2015 Toyota Camry, but lift the hood and you’re in for quite a surprise.

Actually, you have to raise the entire body of the “Sleeper Camry” sedan, which Toyota quietly transformed into an 850-horsepower drag racer. It’s just one of the wild, weird and wacky concept vehicles unveiled at the 2014 Specialty Equipment Marketers Association annual aftermarket convention, an event known to fans around the world as the SEMA Show.

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There’s been plenty written about the supposed death of the American love affair with the automobile. You’d have a hard time proving it at the Las Vegas convention center, which hosts what has become Sin City’s second-largest annual event, this year expected to draw as many as 140,000 attendees.

Kia Mixes Beer and Ice Cream as it Rolls into SEMA

A way to spend a “Day at the Races.”

by on Nov.05, 2014

The Kia Optima race car will sport a new look when it gets back on the track early next year.

Beer and ice cream don’t necessarily mix together– but they’re proving a tasty combination at the Kia stand at this year’s SEMA Show, offering up the themes for two of the Korean carmaker’s lighthearted concept vehicles.

Kia has a history of finding unusual ways to tweak its production vehicles for the big aftermarket show, and this year proves no exception. The theme, this time around, is “A Day at the Races,” and the centerpiece is the maker’s very successful motorsports entry, a Kia Optima decked out in the new livery it will wear for the 2014 racing season.

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Kia has reason to boast. It announced its entry into motorsports just five years ago – not so coincidentally, at the 2009 SEMA Show. It has already won 11 races, about 15% of the events it has entered, nabbing 33 podium finishes overall.

But what’s a day at the races without some beer and snacks? And that’s where Kia gets creative.

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Kia Hires Hoopster LeBron James to Pitch K900

NBA star named maker’s “luxury ambassador.”

by on Oct.17, 2014

LeBron James is Kia's latest athlete endorser. He's the face for a new campaign for the maker's new luxury sedan, the K900.

Automakers aren’t just finding ways to outdo one another with their vehicles, the competition for celebrity pitchmen is also heating up: Kia Motor America added hoops superstar LeBron James to its roster.

James is now hawking the maker’s K900 luxury sedan. He joins fellow NBA player Blake Griffin, tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, and U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie on the company’s list of superstar athlete pitchmen.

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His first ad spot titled “Fit for a King” debuts during the upcoming NBA season. The Cleveland Cavalier, who’s nickname is King James, is the latest high-profile celebrity to begin selling cars after actor Matthew McConaughey linked up with Lincoln in a multiyear deal. (more…)