Kia Has Officially Sold a Million Souls in the United States
Lane Long posted on March 08, 2018 |
The Kia Soul. (Image courtesy of PR Newswire.)
The Kia Soul. (Image courtesy of PR Newswire.)

A Success Story

Kia was met with widespread skepticism when it first unveiled the design for its Soul crossover vehicle in 2009. In spite of the vehicle’s obvious utility, its appearance raised some eyebrows. Cars that buck prevailing body-style trends represent a risk for major manufacturers. Would this thing sell? One million Souls later, Kia has its answer.

Much of the Soul’s success is attributable to cultural factors, notably the best-of-both-worlds value proposition its unique design offers families. In the Soul, young parents get both the easy-driving fuel economy of a sedan and the space to pack up the kids and take them camping for the weekend. It’s a useful combination.

The Soul has also benefitted enormously from one of the more visible auto advertising campaigns in recent memory—does anyone not remember those ads with the dancing hamsters?An oft-overlooked driver of the Soul’s popularity, however, is its sheer availability. In addition to offering a quality product supported by effective marketing, Kia has proven it has the manufacturing chops to make the Soul widely obtainable throughout the United States.

Segmentation

Headquartered in South Korea, Kia has a long list of production facilities around the world. From Georgia to Mexico to the Korean Peninsula itself, the manufacturer’s global network of plants has a combined annual production capacity of 3.5 million vehicles. The vehicles are produced on flexible assembly lines to allow for adjustments based on demand trends, but Kia certainly adheres to that most basic of modern manufacturing tenets: specialization. Each of its production facilities makes only a small subset of Kia’s total vehicle offerings. The Soul itself is produced in a Gwangju, South Korea, plant that employs 7,800 people and cranks out 570,000 cars a year. Ultimately, this tightly concentrated manufacturing model allows the carmaker to focus on other factors that influence its bottom line, such as distribution and branding.

A Look Ahead

The future: battery-powered Souls. (Image courtesy of Kia.com.)
The future: battery-powered Souls. (Image courtesy of Kia.com.)

Hitting the million-unit mark is a clear validation of the Soul’s success, but to maintain that edge, Kia will have to keep innovating. The most obvious outlet for innovation? Electric Souls. The company began exporting battery-powered Souls from its Gwangju facility in 2015, but production capacity remains relatively limited at a mere 5,000 units per year. That might only represent a small fragment of total Soul volume today, but given the model’s popularity, we could easily be talking about the sale of the millionth electric Soul in the not-so-distant future.


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