Betting on Kia Convertible? Don't.

March 7, 2007

Concepts often point the way to production models, but do they point the way to production models of other brands? That was the question on journalists’ lips at the unveiling of the Kia ex_cee’d, a convertible version of the Cee’d hatchback that’s just been launched in Europe. Officially the cabrio is just a styling prototype, though design boss Peter Schreyer is known to be keen for it to move a stage further. Kia’s policy is that it doesn’t spend money building concepts for no reason, but one company insider rated its chances as a little better than 50:50 right now.

However, a few meters away on the Hyundai stand was the world debut of the i30 hatchback, its version of the Cee’d built on the same platform. So does Kia’s cabrio hint at a possible Hyundai droptop, too? According to our source, it’s even less likely that car will ever appear.

The reason for the lack of enthusiasm is simple economics; convertibles are hugely popular in some European markets but not others. In the U.K. they’re big sellers and can account for up to 20 per cent of a model’s total sales. But buyers in France, Spain and Germany aren’t such fans, and averaged out the demand across the continent for cabrios can be as low as one per cent. Time will tell, but Schreyer is known to be working on something called Project Snowflake. There’s speculation it’s some sort of coupe-cabriolet for Frankfurt.--Richard Yarrow

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