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Kia is already solidifying its advertising plans for the 2014 Super Bowl, targeting a 30-second spot for its new, rear-drive K900 sedan during during the biggest football game of the year. The cost for this half-minute of air time? $4 million.
Of course, Kia is no stranger to advertising during the Super Bowl, with the Space Babies and Hot Bot ads of last year and the Mr. Sandman spot in 2012. But the stakes with the K900, which see the Korean brand attempting emulate its corporate cousin/bitter rival Hyundai, by moving into the rear-drive luxury space, are far, far greater. After all, Kia's previous Super Bowl ads were all for models in established segments - the K900 is an entering a realm the brand has never played in before.
The Super Bowl spot will be the first exposure to the K900 for many potential buyers, and considering that the South Korean brand is targeting conquest sales, according to the report from AdAge, it's important that it makes a good showing on such a large stage. As for the theme of the ad, there isn't much speculation from the execs this early in the game, according to AdAge. Looks like we'll be waiting until February to find out.
The big global news of late is a deal that sees a number of major powers easing some sanctions on Iran in return for the Middle Eastern nation scaling back its nuclear program. This thawing of relations between Iran and the West could have far-reaching impacts in both the near and long term, particularly on the auto industry.
As Bloomberg points out, foreign manufacturers, especially Kia and Peugeot, stand to win big by this short-term easing of sanctions. But the impact of opening up the Iranian market to larger-scale sales cannot be underestimated - Peugeot, for example, sold 457,900 units to Iran in 2011 as spare parts kits alone. Opening the Iranian market could also have a huge impact on the cost of oil, as the country was one of the largest producers in the OPEC consortium before firmer sanctions took effect in 2012. Still, as David Cohen, US undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence said, it's "not open season now for business in Iran."
Bloomberg has an excellent report of all the near-term effects an easing of sanctions has across a number of industries. Hop over and give it a look.
Kia entered the US market in 1993 with the Sephia, a compact economy car you probably don't (want to) remember, and two decades later it has stepped on stage at the LA Auto Show to unveil a rear-wheel-drive, fullsize luxury sedan called the K900. The achievement here isn't the car itself, its handsome styling or the incredible value it might be (pricing has yet to be announced), but rather that no one thinks it's strange for this company that once sold us the Sephia to compete head-to-head with the best luxury brands in the world. It's a testament to what 20 years of hard work can do.
No one thinks it's strange for this company that once sold us the Sephia to compete head-to-head with the best luxury brands in the world.
As for the car itself, it does indeed have handsome styling. Kia's design language wears nicely on the K900's larger frame. The large, 19-inch, multi-spoke wheels keep that big body from looking disproportionate, and the all-LED headlights give the front end a suitably high-tech appearance that's required in this class of overachievers.
Despite the fact that executives at both Hyundai and Kia alike have said on numerous occasions that the two companies are separate entities (and largely, they are), there's still a lot that's shared between the two brands. Common platforms and powertrains are found in a number of different Hyundai and Kia products, though the end results have typically been cars that, to the consumer's eye, are quite different. So when Hyundai got its first rear-wheel-drive sedan, the Genesis, a few years ago and followed it up with the larger, more luxury-oriented Equus, it was only a matter of time before sister company Kia got a slice of the RWD pie. And the first product to use this architecture is this, the new K900 sedan that makes its debut at the LA Auto Show.
Kia will offer the K900 with both V6 and V8 power.
Think of the K900 as something of a mix between the Genesis and Equus. All three share the same platform, but the K900 share the Equus' 119.9-inch wheelbase, as well as its front and rear tracks measured at 63.8 and 64.1 inches front and rear, respectively. But unlike the V8-only Equus, Kia will offer the K900 with both V6 and V8 power, like the Genesis. In fact, the K900 will offer the same two engines, although tuned slightly differently, as the Genesis: a 3.8-liter V6 producing 311 horsepower (no torque output is listed as of this writing) and the company's 5.0-liter Tau V8 producing 420 horsepower (oddly, Hyundai rates the Genesis and Equus at 429 hp with this same engine, though that's with premium fuel). Eight-speed automatic transmissions are standard with either powerplant, with Eco, Normal and Sport shift settings.
South Korea's two largest automotive brands are no longer the same companies they were when they first entered the world stage.
Anyone who visits Seoul after a few years absence is likely going to be in for a shock. What was, not that long ago, a decidedly third-world city is today a thriving, sprawling metropolis increasingly on a par with the world's most modern cities.
Spend a few days chatting with the good people of Seoul about their neighbors to the north, and you'll find a pattern emerges. When they first start talking, South Korea's citizenry speaks openly and ardently about seeking reunification with their North Korean brothers and sisters. Yet once you get beyond casual conversation, you'll find that those hopes and wishes aren't all that they first appear to be. Quite reasonably - and despite everyone's best intentions - there's genuine fear that opening the border with communist North Korea would severely tax South Korea's finances, infrastructure and daily lives. It's almost as if reunification feels like something the general public has to say they want, even if they're really not buying into the reality.
It's kind of like the way American consumers and the media have been crying out for electric and hybrid automobiles, yet when it comes time to vote with their pocketbooks, their hearts just aren't in it. There are potential financial and infrastructure concerns, along with lingering worries about how well EVs will integrate into their daily lives. Today, hybrids and plug-ins make up about three percent of new vehicle sales, and the vast majority of those models are gas-electric models - one in particular. Pure electrics aren't yet even a drop in a very large bucket. It's exactly this uncomfortable dichotomy that rings in our heads as we drive through the traffic in Namyang at the wheel of a 2015 Kia Soul EV prototype.
Of course, one can't blame Kia for developing an electric car - it has California's zero-emissions mandates to meet, regardless of whether the segment's sales suggest there's a sound financial strategy attached. Kia officials we spoke with at this early drive of the company's electrified 'box' car seemed to tacitly acknowledge the Soul EV's difficult business case, but pointed to the company's effort to reduce its CO2 output as part of its reason for being. And besides, their beancounters' industry-wide projection for global EV sales in 2018 is 600,000 units, so there's got to be room to grow, right?
When Bob Dylan and his guitar-driven poetry embraced the amp in the mid-Sixties, he famously endured cries of "Judas!" from at least one dejected folkie. The Voice Of A Generation had gone electric, and apparently not all of his concert-goers were ready for the transition. We suspect the Kia Soul and its dancing hamsters will have an easier time of it.
In early October, Kia confirmed what had already long been rumored - the Soul is going electric, too, and now it's revealing some initial details and specs. The automaker's mega-popular 'box' car will be the company's first EV sold in North America - or indeed, anywhere outside of its home market (Kia has offered its tiny Ray EV to government fleets in Korea in limited numbers). For the moment, officials aren't saying exactly when the Soul EV will hit its North American dealers, but it has pinned down the "second half of 2014," for global overseas deliveries to begin, so it's fair to assume the car will carry a 2015 model year designation.
Kia is touting "class-leading range" in excess of 120 miles
SEMA has been pretty mellow this year in terms of over-the-top mod jobs. Sure, there have been some questionable choices, but none have been quite as questionable as the vehicle you see above. This is one of five versions of the redesigned Kia Soul that have been rolled out for the show, all of which take their inspiration from music.
The Vans Warped Tour Soul is the airbrushed vehicle you can see above. Its questionable paint job is accentuated by eight eight-inch Infinity speakers in the side windows, a slide-out barbecue and a 50-inch flat panel monitor on the roof. We imagine this is what happens when you let Xzibit near your Kia Soul. The Vans Warped Tour car also features LED ambient lighting, and the wheels are moderately sized for a SEMA vehice - just 20-inches.
The Amped Soul (above, left) isn't a car, so much as a car-shaped enclosure for several very big speakers. The passenger-side B-pillar has been removed, and the rear door has been replaced with a suicide door, allowing the driver to put the massive stereo on display. LED lighting and four twelve-inch Infinity subwoofers have been fitted, as well as a JBL Pro Live "club-sized stereo." Those gold wheels are 22-inch Forgiato, three-piece items.
If you were enamored of the GT concept that Kia unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show two years ago, we've got good news for you. According to the latest reports, Kia is planning on putting it into production.
The big question at this point is how closely the production model will shadow the four-door coupe concept. The svelte shape will undoubtedly have to make some concessions toward roadworthiness and production feasibility, but just what platform Kia will use to underpin it remains unknown. It could base it off the large, rear-drive K9 or borrow the platform from sister-company Hyundai's Genesis Coupe. Either of those options would enable the production Kia GT to keep the concept's rear-drive orientation, but other routes would make it either front-drive or potentially all-wheel drive.
Word has it also that Kia is planning to reveal a small roadster concept in the mold of the Mazda MX-5 at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January. If public feedback is positive enough, that could see production before the end of next year as well.
Although there has been plenty of news about the Kia K9/Quoris over the past year and a half, we've yet to hear anything from Kia regarding the US fate of its flagship, rear-wheel-drive sedan. That changes today, however, as Kia has confirmed the recent rumor that the car would be renamed K900 for the US market, and that the luxurious sedan would debut next month at the LA Auto Show and go on sale next year.
Along with the announcement, Kia also released its first image of the US-spec K900, and, not surprisingly, this profile shot is identical to what we've seen in images for the Korean-market K9 and globally named Quoris (click above to enlarge). Unlike the closely related Hyundai Equus, the Kia K900 will offer customers the option of V6 or V8 engines, but it will be fitted with just as many luxurious amenities as its Hyundai counterpart.
We'll probably have to wait until closer to the K900's on-sale date for any official word on pricing, but last we heard, it will be priced between $50,000 and $70,000 - a significant step up from the current top-drawer model, the Kia Cadenza. Scroll down for the brief press release, and check back in a few weeks for live coverage of this car's debut.
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