The Kia Optima GT.
The Kia Optima GT. Warren Kirby

Death knell sounding for Kia Optima as sales tank

KIA'S four-door Optima sedan is on death row.

Sales in the medium-size sedan segment have been sliding for years, and after just 34 Optima sales across the nation last month Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith admitted the end is nigh.

"I doubt whether it will have a future after this year,” he said.

"The reality is bringing a car in that's doing 50 a month...in that area we will focus on Stinger. It's a retracting market, you take Camry Hybrid out of there and it's in big trouble.”

Meredith ruled out heavily discounting the Optima ahead of its departure, and said the large-size Stinger fastback had little impact on the market even in four-cylinder guise. Slightly smaller, less expensive, vehicles like the Cerato growing in stature, had played a role in a declining mid-size market.

The Kia Optima GT.
The Kia Optima GT. Warren Kirby

Sales in the mid-size sedan segment nose-dived last year.

Camry accounted for more than half of all vehicles sold in a genre which totalled less than 29,000 units. The previous year more than 41,000 were sold.

Optima obtained just two per cent of the 2018 market.

Large sedans halved in popularity last year and continue to fall. Holden's Commodore remains a favourite, with more than 1600 units shifted this year - a long way from the annual record of 94,642 sold in 1998.

February sales of new cars were down 9.3 per cent on the same time last year, with buyers thumbing their noses at passenger cars. While utes including the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton drove an improvement in the light commercial sector (up six per cent), passenger vehicles declined 21.3 per cent while even the previously white-hot SUV segment slid 6.3 per cent compared to February last year.

"Given the current challenging economic conditions, including a downturn in the housing market, the automotive industry is not surprised by the slower start to the year,” said Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber.

2019 TOP BRANDS YTD

1. Toyota 32,320

2. Mazda 18,725

3. Mitsubishi 15,164

4. Hyundai 12,634

5. Ford 10,099

6. Kia 9507

7. Holden 7992

8. Honda 7907

9. Nissan 7726

10. Volkswagen 7684

2019 TOP MODELS FEBRUARY

1. Toyota HiLux 4431

2. Ford Ranger 3377

3. Mitsubishi Triton 3155

4. Mazda3 2655

5. Mazda CX-5 2357

6. Mitsubishi ASX 2122

7. Toyota Corolla 2070

8. Hyundai i30 1929

9. Toyota LandCruiser 1804

10. Toyota RAV4 1639

Source: Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries