6 Years of Kia in Pakistan and Nothing but Obsolete Cars

It has been nearly 6 years since Kia made its comeback in Pakistan as a result of the Auto Policy 2016-21 which was primarily aimed at generating competition in the market that has long been dominated by 3 Japanese players — at least after 1990.

Unlike its last expedition with the Dewan Group, Kia teamed up with a considerably stronger financial group this time around: the Lucky Group. However in the Dewan era (between 1999 and 2005) Kia’s offerings included the up-to-date offerings, the then latest generation models which competed in the mass market segments against the established names in the business. Cars like the Kia Classic (Pride B), the Sportage, as well as the Spectra, received an overwhelming response albeit in the initial years.

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Kia Spectra was one of the most popular cars of its time in Pakistan
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2nd-gen Kia Rio sedan was sold as CBU between 2006 and 2007

It’s a different story, however, as to why these Kia cars suffered from a sales decline in later years and the Dewan group cascaded itself into financial miseries before eventually wrapping up its operations in the country. Bear in mind after 2005, during its last period of existence, Kia-Dewan offered a new generation Sportage, the Rio sedan as well as the first-gen Picanto, all offered as CBU imported models but none were able to attract buyers due to higher prices and a rather dysfunctional dealership network.

Related: History of Kia Pride- the First Kia in Pakistan

In terms of sales, Kia’s current stint with Lucky Group has been comparatively much better than its preceding venture with Dewan. However, except for the Sportage, no other Kia car has managed to fetch impressive sales numbers in the last few years. Though of late, the Sportage too has started to witness a stark decline in sales. But the most concerning thing is the fact that sparing the Stonic, the entire Kia lineup in Pakistan consists of globally retired cars.

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The 3rd-gen Sorento we have here debuted way back in 2014 at the Paris Motor Show

And it is not just about selling globally discontinued models, cars like Picanto and Sorento were introduced way after the debut of their newer generation models. And while the Sportage was in line with the rest of the world when launched, it too became obsolete nearly 3 years ago. The Sportage is currently in the 5th generation that debuted globally in 2021 and is on the verge of receiving a thorough facelift. Meanwhile, the one sold in Pakistan is the 4th generation model which having made its world debut in 2015 is technically a 9-year-old vehicle.

4th-gen Kia Sportage debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show

The 4th gen Sorento made its global debut in 2020, a year before the obsolete 3rd gen model was introduced in Pakistan in early 2021, and is now a decade-old model as it made its world debut back in 2014. Similarly, the Picanto is the 2nd-generation model which was introduced here two years after getting discontinued from the rest of the world. Today the Picanto we have here is a 13-year-old car, while the current 3rd-generation model sold elsewhere has already received multiple facelifts & is about to get phased out by next year. Pakistan is currently the only market where obsolete models of Sportage, Picanto, and Sorento are being sold.

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2nd-gen Kia Picanto making its debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show

Kia’s only up-to-date offering in Pakistan, the Stonic is also technically a 7-year-old vehicle having made its world debut in 2017. Not to mention, despite being the newest among all locally-assembled Kia models sold here, is the second worst-selling vehicle in the brand’s lineup. In 2023, Kia was unable to push out even a thousand units of Stonic as its tally for the entire calendar year stood at only 816 units, resulting in a dismal sales average of 68 units a month.

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Stonic is the only locally assembled Kia in Pakistan that is NOT an obsolete model

Interestingly, Kia began its comeback operations in Pakistan with the launch of the 3rd-gen Carnival luxury MPV which was offered as a CBU imported model. It was then instantly updated here when the 4th-gen Carnival made its global debut in late 2020.

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The latest Kia Carnival and Stonic, sandwiching the obsolete Sorento in Pakistan

Across the border, the story of Kia is entirely different as all its 3 ICE cars (Seltos, Sonet, Carens) made their world debut in India with each model tailored to suit the market demands there. Not to mention Kia also sells its award-winning EV6 in India and is on the verge of introducing new models including the EV9, and the new Carnival in the Indian market. Kia with its latest offerings has breached several sales records in the highly competitive Indian car market.

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Kia sold over 255,000 cars in India in 2023 accounting for a 6.2% share of the Indian car market and is positioned at 5th place among the top automakers there. In comparison, Kia sold just 6,506 units in Pakistan in 2023 which is not even 3% of what it sells in the Indian market.

Related: Kia India Achieves 1 Million Units Production Milestone

Of late, the sales of Kia cars particularly the Sportage have been greatly impacted in Pakistan by the Chinese competition including the MG HS, Changan Oshan X7, and the Haval H6 & Jolion. All Chinese CUVs sold in our market in the same price domain are the latest generation models in line with the rest of the world & come loaded with all the bells & whistles without any compromise whatsoever.

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The 3-year-old Sportage is about to receive a thorough facelift

This raises the question of whether Kia is satisfied to sell a handful of outdated models in Pakistan without feeling pressured to perform better, or if the company must revamp its model lineup urgently in order to gain a greater share of the market. What is your take on the performance of Kia in Pakistan, do share your opinion in the comment section below.

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