When the Kia Soul “urban crossover passenger car” arrives in spring, many Americans will see another inexpensive small car intended to get good fuel economy.
Although small cars generally are unprofitable, Kia Motors America dealers will see an opportunity to make money on aftermarket add-ons that many young buyers can't resist.
Kia's presence in the U.S. market has grown to include nine vehicles, but the brand has failed to capitalize on the accessory trend that drives events such as the popular Specialty Equipment Market Assn. show in Las Vegas.
All that's about to change. Kia announces at the SEMA show it will offer 53 accessories for the Soul, and about half of those will be available as soon as January, well before the vehicle even goes on sale.
The Soul represents the first of a series of new Kia models that will come available with a growing number of specialty parts offered by an all-new division created within KMA.
“For the Soul, we will have more accessories at launch than we've ever had for any other vehicle,” says Michael Sprague, vice president-marketing for KMA. “It's setting the tone for all the future launches.”
The parts offered on the Soul will be almost entirely cosmetic inside and out, from shift knobs, doorsill plates, alloy pedals, all-weather floor mats, lighting and interior appliques to a rear spoiler, fender garnish, bike rack, cargo box, front air dam, side sill, rear skirt, 18-in. wheels, bumper protector and chrome wheel locks.
Many of the parts appear on the brooding Soul Burner concept that debuted at the 2008 Geneva auto show and also was on display at SEMA.
Kia will channel the accessories through its 640 U.S. dealers. Sprague quotes studies that show small-car buyers generally add $1,000 worth of accessories, “if not right at the point of purchase, they come back within the next six to 12 months,” he says. “They are anxious to add accessories, so it's important that we make them available.”