Kia Australia believes that its localization program for its vehicles is a huge deal for its on-going success in our market.
Kia has spent the last several years emphasising that all its new Australian-delivered models are tuned for our roads and conditions, bringing a local flavour to the Korean company's operations.
Speaking to CarAdvice in Los Angeles, Kia Australia's national press manager, Kevin Hepworth, said that Kia Australia got permission from Korea to spend its R&D budget on locally tuning the suspension and steering of its vehicles.
The company has made significant ground in improving not only the driving dynamics of its vehicles, but also the market perception of its ride and handling quality. More importantly, it's not necessarily just to improve the vehicle's dynamics, but also to showcase that Kia goes the extra mile and makes the effort for Australian customers.
"What they [Kia customers] do know and what they feel, is that Kia cares about what the Australian driver gets and that's important. We understand that you have a particular requirement or desire in your car and we are trying to give you that" Hepworth said.
Kia Australia firstly specifies a starting point to Kia Korea for the initial build, then brings the cars to Australia for a significant local tuning operation, which can take up to three months. From there, it sends the new locally adjusted suspension and steering settings back to the factory for the final build.
The local tuning arm does approximately 20-30 different combinations of torsion beam, rollbars, suspension springs and shock settings as well as steering feel before finding the best mix.
On the whole scheme of things, localisation operations has nudged Kia ahead of its bigger sister company, Hyundai (which conducts its own localisation program), in terms of market perception for ride and handling.