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US investigates failing air bags in Hyundai, Kia cars

Airbags installed in 425,000 Kia and Hyundai vehicles are being investigated after the devices failed to deploy in crashes in which four people died and six others were injured.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began the investigation  after airbags malfunctioned in six crashes involving four 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and two others in 2012 and 2013 Kia Fortes.

The NHTSA review began late last month after Hyundai notified the regulatory agency that “airbag control units showing that an electrical over-stress condition of an … electronic component occurred in three of the crashes.”

The NHTSA review stops short of a formal recall of the vehicles, although there is still possibility of one. Hyundai opted to pre-empt any formal federal action by unilaterally recalling 154,753 Sonatas from model year 2011.

Hyundai’s shares fell 3.8 per cent in Seoul, the biggest drop in more than two months. Kia lost 3.5 per cent, the most in more than six months.

“This is just the start of an investigation — we don’t know how much it will be expanded yet,” said Lee Hang-koo, a senior researcher at state-run Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade in Sejong City, South Korea. “It is surely bad news for Hyundai, which is already seeing sluggish sales in the U.S.”

Air bags already are linked to the largest car-related recall in US history, it led to Japan’s Takata Corp. to seek court protection from creditors after its devices were linked to at least 17 deaths.

Unlike the Takata situation, which involved exploding air bags with shrapnel, this latest probe involves devices that failed to deploy at all.

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Kia technicians tune up

Kia Motors Australia Skills Cup winner, Taehoon Jung

The best of the best Kia technicians went head-to-head for the annual Skills Cup at KMAu’s Sydney headquarters. 

Facing a full day of practical and theoretic competition, the six finalists drawn from dealerships around Australia were locked in a battle for the ultimate prize of the Skills Cup and the right to represent KMAu at the global finals in South Korea late in April.

At the end of the day 33-year-old Taehoon Jung, representing Werribee Kia, finished on top of the podium ahead of Hanseok Yoo (36) from Chadstone Kia. James Stewart, from John Hughes Kia, completed the podium finishers.

Both the Gold and Silver medallists will be heading to Seoul as KMAu has been invited to send two finalists to the global competition recognising the growth Kia has enjoyed in Australia over the past couple of years.

“It is very satisfying to have finished with the Gold Medal, and I really enjoy being able to continue to learn with Kia’s training programs,” Jung said. “I am now looking forward to the finals where my aim is to be the best in the world.”

Yoo said that he was honoured to have been chosen to compete at the Australian Skills Cup against “some truly excellent competition”.

“I love this country and I love the work I am doing,” Yoo said. “Now I am really looking forward to the world competition. 

Kia Motors Australia Head of Aftersales, Phil Murray, said the standard of competition for the Skills Cup was improving year on year.

“We have 325 registered technicians across our service network, a number that is growing every year through a targeted training program,” Murray said.

“The decision by KMC to invite two technicians from Australia to compete in the global event is a recognition of the quality of our technicians and their engagement with the training program.”

Last year, New Zealander Travis Cross was awarded top Service Advisor for the Asia-Pacific region at the Kia Skill World Cup.

Brian Cockerton, from Auckland’s Giltrap Kia, also earned his place to compete on the world stage after coming out top in the National Finals held at the Kia Motors New Zealand technical training centre in March last year.

 

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Hyundai and Kia miss sales targets

Hyundai Motors and affiliate, Kia Motors said they sold only 7.25 million vehicles in 2017, missing their global sales target of 8.25 million, on Tuesday.

Chung Mong-Koo, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group.

Hyundai Motors only shipped 4.5 million vheicles this year, compared with its target of 5.08 million. Kia Motors sold 2.75 million vehicles, shy of the goal of 3.17 million.

“With the global economy continuing its low growth, trade protectionism spreading and competition intensifying in the automobile industry, uncertainty is growing more than ever,” Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo said in his New Year message to employees.

Furthermore, Hyundai Motor shares fell for a third straight year in 2016, down 2 percent, while Kia Motors was the worst-performing stock among major car makers with a 25 percent slump.

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Hyundai and Kia to offer AI assistants

Hyundai and Kia both have reputations as keeping up to date with leading car technologies, so its no news that the Korean automakers have revealed a plan to include AI assistants in their new cars starting from 2019. 

The two brands took a major step towards equipping future connected vehicles with the voice recognition technology necessary to keep pace with growing, real-time data needs of drivers. Hyundai’s “Intelligent Personal Agent,” (IPA), a voice-enabled virtual assistant system, will be deployed in new models set to roll out as early as 2019.

Hyundai’s “Intelligent Personal Agent,” a voice-enabled virtual assistant system, will be deployed in new models set to roll out as early as 2019.

The Intelligent Personal Agent is unique in that it acts as a proactive assistant system, predicting the driver’s needs and providing useful information. For instance, the system may give an early reminder of an upcoming meeting and suggest departure times that account for current traffic conditions.

This sounds a lot like what other voice assistants do, but the car brands are counting on support for “multiple-command recognition” to set itself apart from the competition. When the user says, “Tell me what the weather will be like tomorrow and turn off the lights in our living room,” the system recognises two separate commands in the same sentence and completes each task separately.

You won’t have to wait until 2019 to see the technology in action. Hyundai will unveil Intelligent Personal Agent, at CES 2018, and it’ll test a “simplified” take on the Agent in hydrogen fuel cell cars slated to drive on South Korean roads throughout the year.

It’s hard to say if IPA will have an advantage over companies borrowing AI from the likes of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, but it’s more the universality that will be important due to the fact that you won’t have to buy a premium car to treat your car like a smart home hub. 

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Five stars for new Kia

The new Kia Niro has achieved a 5 star Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) rating, which is great for New Zealand as the small SUV is launching in the Kiwi market in the new year.

Kia Niro frontal offset test at 64km/h.

The Niro comes equipped a range of safety assist technologies as standard including all three grades of autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keep assist, electronic stability control (ESC) and fatigue detection. 

However, results of the full width frontal crash test revealed that the rear passenger was poorly protected in the chest and pelvis. Crash readings indicated that the pelvis had slipped under the seatbelt and was not properly restrained. This resulted in a penalty to the crash test score.

“While overall the Kia Niro is a safe car, it’s worth looking into the details and seeing if it’s the best fit for your lifestyle and how you would use the car,” says AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks.

“Consumers now have a wide range of options, particularly in the SUV market, so they’re in a position where they can pick a safe car that works for their lifestyle and their budget.”

The 5 star rating applies to 1.6 litre hybrid and PHEV variants of the New Zealand sold Kia Niro.

The full list of ANCAP’s vehicle safety ratings, other vehicle safety information and the specifications of the rated vehicles are available online at ancap.co.nz or rightcar.govt.nz.

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Kia to join the EV market

Kia is set to become the next major car company to join the electric vehicle market with the launch of hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of a small SUV called Niro.

Kia Motors New Zealand has announced that the model will go on sale during the opening quarter of next year, however no prices have been released for the new vehicle

After a ten-month evaluation of the Niro, where the model was reviewed by selected consumers and motoring journalists, a business case was created in order for the vehicle to be sold here in New Zealand.

The Korean built Niro was intended only for the European market, but after a ten-month evaluation of the Niro, where the model was reviewed by selected consumers and motoring journalists, a business case was created in order for the vehicle to be sold here in New Zealand.

Kia claims the Niro is the first dedicated hybrid SUV produced anywhere in the world, built to run on both the power of a petrol engine and an electric motor.

The fuel economy of the hybrid is 3.8L/100km, which was put to the test when driven across the USA where the Niro achieved 3.69L/100km, a world record low for fuel consumption.

The plug-in version is even better, thanks to its larger battery pack and electric motor. Factory figures for the Niro PHEV suggest 1.3L/100km.

The Niro hybrid is powered by a 1.6 litre petrol engine in combination with an electric drive unit.

The new plug-in version of the Niro, which has been released just recently to the international market, has a larger battery pack and can travel up to 40km on batter power alone, with no assistance of its petrol engine.

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Kia has record sales

The Kia Sportage

Kia Motors Corporation has announced its September 2017 global sales figures for passenger cars, recreational vehicles and commercial vehicles – and has notched a record total of 252,254 registrations.

Last month, its domestic market sales totalled 48,019 units. This represented an increase of 25.4 per cent compared with the same month last year. It was largely due to the timing difference of the Chuseok holiday, which was in September 2016 compared to October this year. Overseas sales also increased by 3.6 per cent compared to the previous year. This total came in at 204,235 units.
Kia’s best-selling model in overseas markets during September 2017 was the
Sportage compact SUV with 37,746 registrations. The Cerato compact sedan – also known as the Forte or K3 in some markets – was the second best seller with 28,793 units sold.

It was followed by the sub-compact Rio – known as the Pride in Korea –
with 24,760 registrations.

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Kia’s brand ranking climbs

Kia Motors has been ranked among the highest valued brands in the world once again, according to Interbrand’s 2017 ‘Best Global Brands’ report. The study, released today, confirms Kia’s brand value has grown 6 per cent in the last 12 months, to US$6.68 billion.
 
“Kia’s continued efforts to evolve and redefine itself are critical to the sustained growth in its brand value,” says Mike Rocha, global director of brand valuation at Interbrand. “The launch of the Stinger – Kia’s new and exciting fastback sports sedan, and the opening of ‘Beat 360’ – a new sensory brand experience centre in Seoul, fill me with high expectations of a bright future for the company.” 
 
For the second year running, Kia is named the world’s 69th most valuable brand in the report, its latest valuation representing a 645 per cent increase in the value of the Kia brand since 2007. Now the 11th most valuable automotive brand, Kia is ranked ahead of dozens of ‘household name’ consumer brands, as well as a host of volume, premium and luxury car manufacturers.
 
“This welcome rise in Kia’s brand value is a clear reflection of Kia’s continuous dedication to our customers,” Charles Suh, senior vice president of the corporate marketing division at Kia Motors says. “This result provides us with further motivation to continue our mission to become the most desirable automotive brand in the eyes of consumers.” 
 
Kia recently launched its first sports sedan, the Stinger and its new hybrid crossover Niro, which are designed to boost the desirability and dynamism of the brand. 
 
 
 
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8-speed gearbox and new design for 2018 Sorento

Kia Motors Europe has announced a range of new upgrades for its seven-seat flagship SUV and will be on public display for the first time at the 2017 Frankfurt International Motor Show.

The new Sorento will be the first from Kia with the company’s new eight-speed automatic transmission that was launched in 2016.

The 2018 Sorento will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The new eight-speed automatic transmission is available on Sorento models powered by the 2.2-litre diesel engine, replacing the six-speed automatic transmission, but Kia will keep the six-speed auto on the market for now. The greater choice of gears in the eight speed enables more decisive acceleration, while reducing CO2 emissions from 172 to 159 g/km.

The new transmission offers four different drive modes that allow the driver to customise the powertrain’s responses to driver inputs, enhancing fuel economy or acceleration characteristics depending on driver preference.

Kia has also introduced a new GT Line variant to the Sorento. Inspired by the appearance of Kia’s higher-performance GT models, the exterior features four-lamp LED fog lights, red brake callipers, a more prominent sill step, and subtle GT Line badging designed to distinguish it from other Sorento models. Diesel models are fitted with a new chrome twin exhaust tip.

The new Sorento will be available in a number of variants.

The interior of the GT Line includes the same improvements as the standard car, and also features quilted seats, finished in black leather with contrasting grey stitching, plus other additions.

All new Sorentos will come with an array of safety features that include driver warning systems to combat drowsy driving.

Buyers can upgrade their Sorento with a new Harman/Kardon® sound system that Kia says has music restoration technology to rebuild audio signals lost in the digital compression process, returning high-fidelity quality to digitally-compressed music.

 

 

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New Kia Stinger info released

Kia has released further information for the upcoming version of their turbo sports sedan, the Stinger.

Autofile reported in January that the Stinger was expected to be launched globally late this year, but at the time details were sparse. The new stinger will come in an entry level S model, mid specced Si, and the top of the line GT.

Kia Motors Australia’s CEO was keen to point out that while an entry level model, the S was not lacking in features. The S model will have the same 3.3 litre bi-turbo engine, 8 speed gearbox and paddle shifts as the highest speced GT variant, capable of a 4.9 second 0-100km sprint.

The 2018 Kia Stinger.

“There is a belief that any entry-level model will be, for want of a better description, sparse,” Kia Motors Australia CEO, Damien Meredith, said. “That is not the case with the Stinger.

In common with all three grades the S is powered by the 272kW 3.3-litre bi-turbo V6, making an impressive 510Nm of tourque. The 4.9 second 0-100km sprint is aided by the standard launch control function.

Meredith also noted the safety features that are common across the range, including anti-lock brakes, ESC and traction control, rear view camera and more.

All models will also have seven airbags including a driver’s side knee bag, front seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters.

Stepping up to the Si adds a raft of extra features including 19-inch alloys with 225/40R profile front tyres and 255/35R19 rears.

The Si also gains a forward collision warning system, emergency braking assist and a driver attention alert.

The interiror of the Stinger.

In addition to that, the GT variant will include LED headlights with automatic levelling, blind spot detection systems and a full colour HUD.

The seating becomes Nappa leather with GT logos and the addition of lumbar support, powered bolster adjuster and thigh extender. There will be two-position seat memory with easy access button, a D-cut steering wheel and wireless cell phone charging.

Kia still have not released an official date for the Stinger’s debut, but did note that a comprehensive list of specs will be available at lauch.

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Telluride wins award

The Kia Telluride Concept car has received a 2017 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) bronze medal in the ‘Transportation’ category.

The Telluride was designed at Kia’s California design studio, Kia Design Centre America. “It highlights how our designers are creating compelling concept vehicles as a foundation to lead into production-ready cars. I am very proud of our design team and the award from IDSA,” says president and chief design officer for Kia Motors, Peter Shreyer.

The Telluride was unveiled in 2016, and includes a three-row, seven-passenger, luxury SUV concept. It features a modern and upright shape, muscular stance, and – for maximum comfort – a longer wheelbase than many other production Kia models.

The concept focuses on the passenger experience and comfort of second-row occupants, whose seats can recline nearly flat with large fold-away footrests.

Front- and middle-row passenger seats feature a series of precise diamond-cut openings in the seatbacks, each embedded with Smart Sensors to capture a passenger’s vital health information. Passenger vitals are then displayed on interior door panel screens, and synchronize with a Light Emitted Rejuvenation (LER) system.

The LER system utilizes a large LED panel in the ceiling which displays therapeutic light patterns to treat desynchronosis, more commonly known as jetlag, and improve passengers’ energy levels.

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