Nicely Developed, Designed, and Executed, but Can Kia Overcome Bad Timing?
In the midst of a shaky economy and frenzy over high fuel costs that hasn’t quite died down, Kia’s new Borrego appears to be the wrong product at the wrong time. Borrego isn’t alone in facing an uphill battle this fall, as the Dodge Challenger muscle car, Cadillac CTS-V performance sport sedan, Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram pickups, and king of any hill Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 are just a few of the other thirsty, function-oriented entries this year.
Yet Kia may pull some success out of an apparently difficult situation. First, Borrego is well done, competitive, and has nothing to apologize for. Second, Borrego is supported by a significant marketing program, advertising mid-size SUVs when no one else dares; this is the one segment with comparatively little ad clutter today and with the chance to grab some buyers feeling guilty about their suburban jungle Expeditions, or looking to shave a bit off the monthly payment to compensate for increased fuel costs. Third, the model is sold in South Korea as well and Kia could offer a lower-content version for some emerging markets if they chose. Finally, if sales don’t take off as expected, the economy is the easy the fall guy. If sales beat (likely readjusted) targets, then they’ve got a success to report back home.