Although Kia is owned by Hyundai, the two companies operate as nearly separate entities. Sure, there’s platform sharing and Kia even builds the Hyundai Santa Fe in West Point, GA for Hyundai. Still, the product lines between the two automakers remain (mostly) distinct.
If Car and Driver is correct, the product lines will get just a bit closer together, as Kia has given approval to a rear-drive, flagship sedan. Unlike Hyundai, who paved the way to its Equus premium luxury sedan with the Genesis luxury sedan and the Azera near-luxury sedan, Kia has never had a car that’s crossed into luxury territory, and most of their product line sells well below the $30,000 price point. Sure, you can cross the $35,000 barrier with an optioned-out Kia Sedona or Kia Sorento, but we’re guessing that most customers opt for more affordable versions, and neither would be considered a luxury vehicle by consumers.
Kia’s rear drive sedan will likely be based on the Hyundai Genesis sedan, which means it should be offered with both V-6 and V-8 power, linked to the Hyundai-developed eight-speed automatic transmission. Kia is said to be launching the car in Korea next May, with the U.S. version expected in 2014 as a 2015 model.
There’s word that Kia will launch an electric vehicle in its home market next year as well, but it isn’t clear if this is the Kia Naimo shown in Korea earlier this year. Longer-term, Kia is planning an electric crossover vehicle for global markets, but don’t expect to see that before 2014. There’s no word yet on which markets will get Kia’s electric vehicles, but it stands to reason that the United States will be among them.