Majority of Kia Dealers Won't Be Selling 2015 K900 Luxury Flagship |

Majority of Kia Dealers Won't Be Selling 2015 K900 Luxury Flagship

Just the Facts:
  • Less than 30 percent of Kia's U.S. dealers will sell the high-end 2015 Kia K900.
  • The top-of-the-line K900 is due to arrive at dealerships in March.
  • A new training process aims to teach Kia dealer personnel how to impress fussy luxury car owners.

CHICAGO — Kia dealers and their employees, some who have spent decades successfully selling mass-market econoboxes, are learning how to sell a $60,000 luxury sedan to a Mercedes-Benz owner.

The 2015 K900, Kia's first luxury car to be sold in the U.S., will arrive at selected dealerships in March. But finding the car may be difficult: Less than 30 percent of Kia's dealers will sell the car.

"The (training) experience is designed to shift the culture, prepare authorized K900 dealers to welcome customers who may have never visited a Kia dealership and bring with them expectations set by other luxury brands," Kia Motors America spokesman Scott McKee told Edmunds.

"That cultural change will have a ripple effect through our network, elevating the experience for all Kia customers," he said in an e-mail.

Kia has posted partial K900 pricing on its Web site. The 2015 Kia K900 with a V8 engine is priced at $60,400, including a $900 destination charge, according to Kia Motors America.

The full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan targets the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 and the Lexus LS 460.

Getting most of Kia's dealers to buy into the luxury car business has been a challenge. The K900's high sticker price, plus the cost of required training and a showroom display kit that combined is estimated to cost each dealer about $30,000, has attracted less than 30 percent of its 765 dealers.

The response by dealers is not a surprise, said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Kia Motors America. Most of the luxury car market is on the West and East coasts, in the South, and in the Chicago area.

"There's not a lot in the middle part of the country," he said.

But Sprague is optimistic.

"We are doing it in phases," he said during an interview earlier this month. "In Phase One we have about 220 dealers that have signed up to sell the vehicle. There was a business case behind it in terms of investing in training, investing in tools, investing in a showroom kit that we have put together to highlight the car. It is a significant investment for the dealer to make."

The showroom kit includes dark wood inlays that are cut into the showroom floor, where only one car, the K900, will be positioned. The kit provides displays highlighting the car's exterior colors and trims, and an iPad-like device that offers a video showing some of the car's features.

A key element of the training is targeted at the sales staff, Sprague said.

"The car is filled with technology, and we really want people to understand it and be able to sell it," he said. "It is also our first rear-wheel-drive vehicle, first V8 sedan. So there are a lot of things just from a technical standpoint we need people to know and understand in order to communicate the features and benefits of the vehicle."

Sprague expects more Kia dealers eventually will sign up.

"We want to make sure that we get it launched right, build the awareness for it, build the excitement for it," Sprague said. "Then I think we will see more (dealers) raise their hand."

Edmunds says: Luxury car owners who are pampered by their dealers will expect the same treatment from Kia.


  • faztang1_ faztang1_ Posts:

    This whole idea is going to fail miserably. What person in the market for a Mercedes, BMW, or Audi is ever going to cross shop a KIA? Especially one that is called the K900. Worst car name ever? The K9/Dog jokes are gonna fly with with this one. KIA should have taken baby steps with maybe a 40K semi luxury car before going in to the 60K plus zone. And don't even bring up the Hyundai Eqqus., Kia has a perception of being a more econo brand than Hyundai.

  • jdubbs115_ jdubbs115_ Posts:

    faztang1, Kia already has a 40K semi luxury car, and it's in Edmunds' LT fleet: the Cadenza. That car has technically been around for 5 years now, just not in the US. Kia has been very happy with the sales so far, so there's no real business case for them to NOT launch the K900. Remember, this car is already 2 years old, so they already have two years of experience working with customers and their expectations in other markets. Remember, the goal is to elevate the brand image, not sales supremacy. Think long term!

  • lions208487 lions208487 Posts:

    @faztang- While I agree that MB, BMW, and Audi buyers will probably raise their nose to a Kia, there will be plenty of buyers that will spend there money on a new K900. I see plenty of Equus vehicles in and around Woodland Hills, CA. The Genesis sedan sel

  • piredon piredon Posts:

    Actually sat in one at the Syracuse auto show recently. Other than the chrome wheels and the cheap looking Kia steering wheel, it was a well-executed piece. Much better than I expected, though I've not actually driven it. If they offer loaner cars and a lease payment that's competetive with similarly priced cars (we're talking 5 series/A6/E Class pricing, so 600-700 per month), I'd at least consider one.

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