took the wind out of the North American economy last year, Kia Canada found itself having one its most successful years last year, and sees only continuing success for this year.
Elias El-Achhab, Kia Canada’s COO said that when 2020 started the automaker was expecting a record 2020 with plans to break its annual sales records. Not bad for coming off of a successful celebration of the company’s 20 years in Canada in 2019.
“Looking back, we started with a successful January and a successful February, and then COVID came along,” he added. “Everything crashed ant the whole automotive industry was trying to stay alive for the next thirty days. Everyone went into survival mode.”
For many, that meant simply focusing on what could be done immediately to stay afloat as vehicle sales across North America cratered as U.S. states and Canadian provinces began rolling out lockdown orders to control the spread of the virus. Kia Canada could have done the same. Instead, it took another route.
“We could have decided to just try and survive, or we could put together a game plan to make the most of the situation that was happening,” El-Achhab continued.
Kia Canada realized it had built up over the many years in Canada a lot of good will with Canadians and strong customer loyalty with its vehicles; and the company was going into 2020 with a strong slate of new and refreshed vehicles for Canadians. The Kia Telluride, Soul and Stinger were solid sellers and earning a bevy of awards and recognitions, including several AJAC Car of the Year awards. And Kia was ready to launch one of its most anticipated vehicles, the Kia Seltos.
Canadians, however, also wanted more from Kia Canada.
Michael Kopke, director of marketing with Kia Canada said that what Kia Canada’s dealers and management teams were hearing was that Canadians wanted support from Kia Canada when it came to the vehicles they had bought and financed. So Kia Canada decided not to take the path others had opted which was for deferring payments, but instead to make those payments for the customer.
Kopke said that was the idea behind the ‘Kia Has You Covered’ program. From May to August of last year Kia Canada told customers it would pay for the first six months on a financed vehicle, and the first three months on a leased vehicle. This program assured buyers that Kia was there to help and support them. And, he added, it complemented Kia Canada’s Power to Give initiative that saw the automaker donate 60,000 face shields to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support frontline healthcare workers. As well, Kia Canada donated $200,000 to Food Banks Canada and provided vehicles to help deliver food where needed.
Along with payment and lease support, Kia Canada also made it a point to stay on track with the launch of its Kia Seltos
. “At the end of the day, you only get one chance to launch a vehicle and while the pandemic is challenging, we had huge confidence in the Seltos and that it would be successful,” said Kopke.
Kia Canada was not wrong in that assessment. Sales for the Seltos in Canada have been strong with over 13,000 of the Seltos being sold in Canada at the end of 2020. Kopke and El-Achhab said that the Seltos has captured the attention of the younger car buying demographic in Canada, and it certainly helped that the ads for the Kia Seltos featured Billie Eilish’s song ‘Bad Guy’,
a massive hit for the singer who is popular with Millennial car buyers. The ad with the song was so popular that at YouTube Canada’s annual Ads Leaderboard event, that ad for the Kia Seltos had over five million views and praised for its cinematic aesthetic and dynamic music video feel.
El-Achhab added that 2020 proved to be one of the most successful sales years for Kia Canada, despite everything the pandemic wrought. The company can boast of eight months of record sales, with August of last year being one of the best months ever for the company in its entire Canadian history. It sold over 72,000 vehicles, with the Forte and Sorento being its best selling models.
El-Achhab and Kopke both expect that 2021 will continue to be a strong year for Kia Canada. Signs already point to a recovery for the automotive sector in Canada, and Kia Canada plans to bring new products to market such as the newly reimagined 2021 Kia Sorento that was just launched, the Kia K5 and new hybrid, and all-electric vehicles to come to market later this year.
“We have other surprises as well,” El-Achhab hinted. “Kia is a maturing brand that will see it bring new customer on-board to the brand going forward.”