Can Kia Sell Expensive Cars in the US? + Bonus Maserati RantS

Earlier today, I read Automatch Tom's post asking if the K900 can compete with the Ghibli (link) Then, I went on the front page and read Zac Estrada's post about the Maserati ad failing to mention the $67,000 price tag. The comments on the article then said how funny it is that Kia didn't mention the K900 price either. This then proved mine (and most likely many others) thinking: Kia cannot justify a $60,000 car.

When people hear Kia, expensive isn't the first word that comes to mind. People do not expect a Kia, a car that 10 years ago was associated with being a piece of junk, would be selling $60,000 BMW fighters. Maserati on the hand, is unheard of to many non-gearheads. They figured it would be an expensive vehicle. So, this brings up my question: will people be willing to buy a Kia that costs more than $60,000, yet still costs less than its German rivals?

To put simply, no. Just the other day, I posted my article about my friend who bought the junk BMW from a dealer over my practical Honda recommendation (link). The reasons she took the Bimmer was simple: she liked the badge. The heritage. To her, BMW sounds much better than Honda. Driving a BMW puts you in a new class. You no longer are that college kid. You are that college kid with your parent's money. Look at Mercedes with the new CLA. It starts at $29,900. A new Honda Accord EX-L (not even a V6) starts at $28,270. That is a very small price difference. Again, ask your friends which sounds nicer; a Mercedes or a Honda? I had a friend whose dad was looking for a new car. He wanted a good looking four door sedan that costs around $32,000. I showed him the Honda first. He liked it but wasn't wowed. Then I showed him the Mercedes. At first, he thought I was taunting him with a $55,000 sedan. When I showed him the starting price, he was shocked and wanted to go look at it. He is currently at the dealer as we speak custom ordering one. When I asked him why he chose the Mercedes, he said he liked the idea of telling his friends he drove a Mercedes.

Back to the main point here, when people hear Kia, the perception isn't very good. Especially to the people that most likely will be buying it, older retirees who want a comfortable land yacht. To them however, Kia was some cheap import. This was the car that kept them buying American because the foreign cars were no good. Many of these seniors were simply middle aged family oriented people who needed a good way to get around. When you tell them Kia today, they do not think positive. You never hear good stories about them with their Kia.

And if Kia tries to attract the younger people; those people who drive 5 series or E classes (think realtor or dentist), I don't think it'd work. These people will not know much of Kia. They will not know exactly what they sell. They will not know that they are decent cars. These people are the ones who have always driven cars that were above them (see the kids who went to college with mom and dad's wallet). So, this market is also a no-go.

Lastly, we have the car person. The one who knows about the current offerings in this class and by each manufacturer. This, includes people like myself, the ones who look and see that Kia offers a sub $15,000 subcompact. We sit here and wonder how people can then look at Kia and buy this $60,000 luxury sedan. This is the problem. The price gap. It is immense. It encompasses $45,000. That is a lot of money. How can a dealer that just sold a base $15,000 Rio to some kid for a first car then go and sell a $60,000 sedan to a retired couple? I don't think they can. The games played by dealers towards the young and poor are nothing like the games played on seniors. Kia has a great styling element to them. They also have a great low price point. To the younger generation, this is great. But these are not the people who buy these luxury vehicles. These are the people who after this lease is up, they move on to a better brand; not stick with Kia.

I believe that the big thing going for the K900 will be the people who ended up with the Ghibli, or 5 series, or E class, after the warranty is up and the maintenance costs matter. Just ask my grandmother, owner of a 2009 Hyundai Genesis. Hers is fully loaded and cost a lot new. This was the first luxury car by the Hyundai/Kia group. This was the first attempt. She loves how cheap it is to maintain. The Hyundai badge doesn't bother her since the car is cheaper to run. What did she drive before? A Mercedes Benz S500. Why did she stop? The cost to maintain it. The tires needed for the big rims. The expensive software updates. The overpriced oil changes. The insurance. A Hyundai is a lot cheaper. The Genesis can go to Pep Boys and get work done. The Mercedes went to the dealer. The big thing Kia needs is the people who bought the Ghibli to have the warranty expire. They will regret the idea of owning an Italian. The fun will be gone. The constant check engine lights. The little quarks. Each of which will cost hundreds per visit to fix. What Kia should've done is waited three years. Wait for warranties to expire and leases to go up. This will make people run to the lesser brands. Yes they are not as prestigious. But, in the end, your wallet will thank you.

Oh, and by the way, they're real and they're spectacular I can't help but laugh at people complaining about Maserati's ad. It was constantly ranked low because people said that they were bothered that they couldn't afford this car and it was out of the reach of the majority of Super Bowl watchers. However, no one complained about Jaguar throwing in an advertisement for the F-Type, a car that starts at $65,000 or the Kia which costs at least $60,000. Even Chevy, the all American brand, advertised using the High Country edition of the Silverado, a model that costs nearly $50,000. Why not start judging commercials based on the quality, not price. You criticize a brand that is going from selling exotic sports car that are unheard of to the majority of the population to selling midsize luxury sedans. Vehicles that many, including doctors, lawyers, realtors, jewelers, and many others could afford.

If anything, you should give them props. They shocked everyone. Right out of the gate, they come out strong. I had no clue what was coming. I thought it was Chrysler (which in a sense it was). No one expected Maserati to advertise. Google blew up with people searching about this car. Chevrolet, however, got a very small increase in searches after they aired. Maserati did something incredible, they got their name to stick inside the heads of Americans; a claim that other companies cannot make at all.