The Kia Stinger hit the market in 2017, spending the first year of its life earning plaudits for terrific handling at an unbeatable price. Although the Stinger could shake the competition, starting in 2018 and ever since, the Stinger couldn’t shake rumors that it won’t get a second generation. In fact, tangential questions about the Kia began in late 2017, with the assertion that Kia needed to upgrade its dealer network if it really wanted to take on the Germans. Once sales in the key North American market began to soften, then slide, that put blood in the water. Kia’s head of design couldn’t put off the sharks in October 2018, telling Australian outlet Which Car that the sedan wasn’t selling as well as expected in North America. He returned with the same dolor the next year when speaking to Aussie outlet Car Advice, and followed that a month later by sharing the same hesitations phrased differently with Aussie outlet CarsGuide. Now The Korean Car Blog, sourcing “a new report of the South Korean sales,” alleges the situation has gotten worse thanks to the coronavirus catastrophe and the need to conserve resources.
Kia had already opted not to put a new powertrain into the 2021 Stinger refresh, saving money by adding more power to the current 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 with a revised exhaust. Everyone who appreciates the Stinger has clear ideas about why it doesn’t sell well in certain markets, like these Canadians, this guy in the UK, and these folks from the U.S. and other countries. TKCB believes one of the major issues is the in-house Genesis G70 competition, which has just about everything the Kia could want: A premium brand with premium touchpoints, marketing and advertising, a more rational equipment mix, near constant tweaking, and again, marketing and advertising. Does anyone remember when LeBron James and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler fronted the Stinger movement?
Of course, the rumors of axing are still only rumors, and the Stinger is still only three years old. Anything can happen, apparently including the remote possibilities the Stinger morphs into a different kind of vehicle or goes electric. If the sales numbers continue as they’ve been going, however, something will need to happen; after an 18% dip from 2018 to 2019 in U.S. sales, the Stinger’s already down 21% so far this year. Or we’d think something needs to happen — the Kia K900 remains on sale having tabbed 102 sales all of last year in the U.S., and 65 so far this year. Two years ago, Kia USA product honcho Orth Hedrick told CarBuzz that the K900 deserved to carry on because, “We’re a global company and we’re going to make this car anyway. I think for a lot of us it signals our competency.” May the Stinger, which does the same thing but even better, be so fortunate.