Auto blogWed, 19 Nov 2014
Despite all the focus on the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, there's another increasingly important event happening on the other side of the planet. The Guangzho Motor Show is yet another expression of China's growing automotive might. Not only does the show boast a concurrent introduction with the LA Auto Show, in the form of the Mercedes-Maybach S600, but it has at least one exclusive item, with the Kia KX3 Concept.
Looking like a Soul mixed with a Sportage, the KX3 heralds the arrival of a production model based on the Hyundai ix35, known here in the US as the Hyundai Tucson. Whether that model will make Stateside, though, is another story.
If it does, World Car Fans claims it will be with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 1.6-liter turbocharged four, both of which should be familiar to Hyundai/Kia shoppers. While WCF says there will be a manual-transmission option, we shouldn't count on any gearbox beyond a dual-clutch automatic.
Hyundai's controversial decision last September to move its Korean headquarters to an expansive (and expensive) new facility was met with a swift backlash by shareholders. After making the biggest land purchase in South Korean history, the company's share price took a nine-point nose dive.
Now, in a bid to get back in the good graces of its stockholders, Hyundai and its subsidiary, Kia, will make a $615-million stock buyback plan. Reuters claims this is the first time in ten years that Hyundai has made a buyback offer with the explicit purpose of pumping up share prices.
The total deal bumped up Hyundai's share prices 5.7 percent while Kia is up two percent, although neither company has fully recovered from the battering that followed the headquarters announcement. It's unclear what else it will take for Hyundai to recover the ground it lost during the land deal.
Kia revealed a monster-powered K900 - with output approaching 650 horsepower - this week at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Fittingly called the "High-Performance" K900, the sedan gets a Garrett 2871R twin-turbo application, which boosts the 5.0-liter V8 engine from its stock rating of 420 hp.
The heady power is underscored by a sinister appearance package, which includes a custom body kit with carbon-fiber inserts, blacked-out chrome trim and 21-inch gloss black wheels. The K900 also has a lowered Eibach suspension and eight-piston brakes with 15-inch cross-drilled rotors.
Inside are tan leather seats with black suede accents. Eleven-inch monitors are mounted in the seatbacks, and the trunk features a specially designed compartment for a racing suit.
Kia's 2014 SEMA Show theme is "A Day At The Races," and in addition to a very powerful K900 luxury sedan, the company has revealed several vehicles that would make any day at the track more comfortable - and tasty.
The Ballast Point Sedona is a complete about-face for Kia's minivan, turning the family hauler into a beer truck for infield parties. As the name implies, the Sedona features beer on tap from the Ballast Point, a San Diego-based craft brewery. The vehicle also has restaurant-grade stainless steel counters, extra space for kegs and audio speakers integrated into the roof.
After seeing this Sedona, we actually now kinda like the idea of a minivan-based truck model. Are we nuts?
Fri, 31 Oct 2014
This amount includes $100-million in civil penalties, the largest such fines in EPA history.
Hyundai and Kia are getting more than a slap on the wrist for overstating the fuel economy of an estimated 1.2-million vehicles in their 2011-2013 model ranges. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice and the California Air Resources Board are hitting the automakers with collective penalties valued at around $300 million for Clean Air Act violations. This amount includes $100-million in civil penalties, the largest such fines in EPA history. Specifically, Hyundai is paying a $56.8 million penalty and relinquishing 2.7-million greenhouse gas emissions credits. Kia is paying $43.2 million in penalties and giving up 2.05-million credits.
The Toyota Prius is the undisputed king of the hybrid market, but Hyundai and Kia are hoping to challenge its reign in the coming years with their own dedicated model. However, in all likelihood this is the same technology being shared between them. "We will take the lead in the future by raising the competitiveness of our environment-friendly cars like hybrid-only cars, plug-in hybrid cars and fuel cell hydrogen cars," Hyundai Motor CEO Kim Choong-ho said to Reuters, during the launch of another vehicle in South Korea.
While Kim didn't say when the model would be ready, Autocar in Europe spoke to people at Kia, who said that the company's own hybrid was two years away and codenamed the DE. The initial vehicle is reportedly a five-door hatchback that's about 169-inches long, with more conventional styling than the Prius. Its powertrain is reportedly based around a 1.6-liter engine with electric assist. A plug-in version might follow later, and other bodystyles on the platform are possible. A recently spotted test mule might show the current state of development on the project (pictured above).
According to Reuters, the decision for the new vehicle comes in order to meet tighter emissions in some markets. However, it seems like a challenging move for the US market. Hyundai already sells its Tucson fuel cell in limited quantities and the Sonata hybrid, and Kia has the Optima hybrid and Soul EV. Industry analysts are also predicting that hybrids might have a hard time versus internal combustion engines in the coming years. In addition, Toyota is rumored to get fuel economy close to 60 miles per gallon for some versions of the next Prius. All of these factors make selling the models here a potentially difficult undertaking.
The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey (right) is out, and the top two spots look much the same as last year's list with Lexus and Toyota in first and second place, respectively. However, there are some major shakeups for 2014, with Acura plunging eight spots from third in 2013 to 11th this year, and Mazda replaces it on the lowest step of the podium. Honda and Audi round out the top five. This year's list includes six Japanese brands in the top 10, two Europeans, one America and one Korean.
Acura isn't the only one taking a tumble, though. Infiniti is the biggest loser this year by dropping 14 spots to 20th place. Other big losses come from Mercedes-Benz with an 11-place fall to 24th, and GMC, which declines 10 positions to 19th.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's not traditional mechanical bugs hauling down these automaker's reliability scores. Instead, pesky problems with infotainment systems are taking a series toll on the rankings. According to Consumer Reports, complaints about "in-car electronics" were the most grumbled about element in new cars. Problem areas included things like unresponsive touchscreens, issues pairing phones and multi-use controllers that refused to work right.
Kia is getting all set for this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and among its vehicles is something that seems pretty mean.
The Korean company is keeping details quiet about what's under the hood of what it calls the High-Performance K900, but from listening to this video it certainly sounds fantastic with quite a meaty growl. There might be some form of forced induction going on, though we can't say for sure. Elsewhere on the car, Kia isn't being so tight-lipped. The High Performance wears a custom shade of gray paint with a one-off body kit, featuring carbon fiber inserts. It also sports 21-inch gloss black wheels and black chrome trim.
Honestly, we were left scratching our head a little when LeBron James signed on to be the "luxury brand ambassador" for the K900. However, if he were driving this around Cleveland, the endorsement might make a little more sense. Check out the video above to glimpse the concept for SEMA, and read the little that Kia is saying about it in the release below.
Thu, 16 Oct 2014
"I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia's first-ever luxury ambassador." - LeBron James
LeBron James is taking his talents to Kia.
You'd be forgiven if you weren't fully aware of this vehicle's existence. While the Soul EV is a big deal for Kia, as it marks the Korean brand's first foray into the world of pure electric vehicles here in the US, it simply has not a been able to garner much regard from the average car fan or, really, the automotive press.
As a green car, it has to be tough to compete with Elon Musk's remarkable ability to consistently hold our attention with nearly everything he touches at Tesla. Add that to the fact that the Soul EV doesn't offer a ton in the way of aesthetics to differentiate itself from its gasoline-powered sibling - save a few tweaks here and there - and its limited initial availability (CA only for now), and you end up with a vehicle that just isn't on a lot of people's radar. And that's too bad.
You see, none of the above is meant to imply that this is a bad car. In fact, as you read through our driving notes, you'll see that the reality is actually the opposite: Kia has a genuinely solid product on its hands.