First unveiled in Detroit, the Stinger is a new GT car from Kia, and it holds all the records that matter for the Korean manufacturer: The Stinger is the most powerful, the fastest and the most expensive car Kia has ever made, and it’s going to take on the best that German car makers have to offer.
Artur Martins VP Marketing & Product Planning Kia Motors Europe explains how the Stinger evolved from a dream to reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world.
What impact will the new Kia Stinger have on the brand? Why is Kia entering so aggressively into the sport sedan segment?
The Kia Stinger was introduced in 2011 purely as a concept car. When we develop a concept car, the plan is usually to introduce it into the market later on. This was not the original intention with the Stinger. However, the positive reaction from consumers and tech-media led us to go ahead and build it. It was a bold move for the company. There were of course challenges bringing it to life while remaining as close to the original concept as possible. It was a great success and the car is destined to be our brand ambassador, representing everything our brand is about in terms of design, technology, and handling.
The Stinger shows our commitment to Europe as a region, a car developed here by European designers for European tastes.
Will the impact of the Stinger be more on branding or sales?
Our first aim is to impact on the brand as much as possible. This will make us one of the few mainstream brands in a segment with currently only premium manufacturers. We have a strong product and aim to attract a high number of consumers taking into account our volume limitations.
How big of a design team do you have, and how is it resourced? What are the main strengths of Kia styling and engineering?
We have three design centers in Europe, California, and Korea. During the first phase of a project, all three centers compete with each other looking at new product designs and models. Once a product is chosen, the centers then collaborate closely on developing it. Our Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer oversees all design decisions in the studios and centers worldwide. We hired Peter ten years ago and he revolutionized our overall appearance by introducing more European designs.
We also have a very dedicated team of 40 people here in Frankfurt. They take care of exterior and interior designs, materials and textiles, color, trim, and so on. Work takes place in the studio with monthly product evaluations in Korea. Our team is fully multinational and diverse with 22 nationalities represented. The Kia is very European in design unlike Asian brands which are often driven by Asian design. We take this approach in the United States and Asia, where we have been very successful.
Kia rose to 69th in Interbrand’s 2016 Best Global Brands report. What are the main strengths and characteristics of the Kia brand in Europe with its mature and fragmented car market?
Europe has a competitive car market and we were very aware of the importance of our position here in terms of the global playing field. If we succeeded in Europe, we would strengthen our position worldwide. Being a strong brand in Europe is beneficial in terms of global brand development.
The first step the company took was to look at quality. We are one of the few brands in the world where the quality design and inspection team have the same power and influence as the head of the company. They can hold up the launch of a car if it does not meet their exacting standards.
Our second step was to focus on brand design development with Europe as the key region.
When buying a car, whatever the budget, the most important thing for people is the design. It is important for us and the industry as a whole. Working within the European market is challenging enough, but entering as a non-European brand is even more difficult. We have to stand out for consumers to even consider Kia as an option. The Stinger is most certainly a car that will stand out from the crowd
The Stinger goes on sale in Europe from October.