Kia joins the scrap to keep sales buoyantBy Maurice Hardy
February 08, 2010
Scrappage is just about grinding to a halt and if you look at the figures there have been one or two firms that have seen real benefits from the scheme.
As you might expect, Ford has been up there among the big performers and so, too, has Hyundai. Ford sold almost 33,000 cars under scrappage while Hyundai topped that. For Ford, that accounts for around 10 per cent of its sales while for Hyundai it's massively more than half and a real distortion of its true performance.
Another winner was Kia, another part of Hyundai, which achieved more than 21,600 scrappage sales out of 50,637 units for the year, less than half the total. This year, there's going to be something of a vacuum to fill in Hyundai and Kia showrooms that will be far more noticeable than that which afflicts Ford dealers although everyone will feel the pain to some degree.
Kia has immediately gone on the attack and, from January 1, all its cars now carry a seven year, 100,000 mile warranty. Only Hyundai betters this for high mileage drivers with an unlimited miles five year cover which It will be hard to improve. Kia's warranty, though, looks like a cast iron warranty for family drivers - the small print shows that consumables like exhausts and clutches aren't covered, which is only fair, so don't expect all ownership costs to be eliminated.
Although the scrappage scheme looked like massive Government generosity it was something far different. On cars where the VAT levied was more than £1,000 then the Government made money as it's arguable that the car would not have sold without the incentive so no VAT would have been paid at all. It should be possible to keep a scheme running by offering to pay all the VAT up to £1,000 on cars costing less than the threshold £6,714 and a maximum of £1,000 after that. Dealers and manufacturers would quickly add their own discounts and we would all be winners again. Other countries have seen new car sales collapse as scrappage schemes ended but our less generous scheme could go on ad infinitum.
In the meantime, Kia has its seven year warranty incentive, introduced on its first European car, the cee’d hatchback that's now offered in three and five door form, plus the SW estate.
The car has been around long enough to enter its second generation and we spent two weeks living with the cee’d estate over the Christmas and New Year period so there was plenty of time to find out its weak spots, to get beneath the surface and assess the real quality of this car.
And the plain fact is that it’s hard to fault at all. Everyone who travelled in the car was impressed by it. Kia has done a very good job with the cee’d SW considering it is the first estate car the company has ever produced. The cee’d SW is exactly what most users of a car like this will really want.
The second generation gets the metalwork tweaks you would expect from a facelift but, more importantly, there is a high grade of interior trim that makes the car much more acceptable. Two years on British roads have also persuaded Kia to revise the suspension, so the cee'd SW now rides better than it did before.
The 1.6 litre diesel economy-conscious drivers will favour has two power outputs, 89 bhp and the 113 bhp of the mid level trim version we tried, a well equipped car with a price tag of £15,320, not far adrift of where it was two Christmases ago. Economy is pretty good at 47 mpg but other estates I’ve tried will manage more and are in the same budget / value market sector.
Kia has stretched the SW by 235 mm compared with the hatch and that extra length all goes into the load area which comes out at 1,664 litres with the rear seats folded. That’s a significant amount more than some rivals even though the car manages to look compact. Overall, the cee’d SW is impressive and never gives a clue that Kia has not done a car like this before two years ago.