Kia has added driver assistance systems not typical in small cars as well as upgraded connectivity in its new Rio. The Korean brand hopes offering such features at an affordable price -- or as standard equipment -- will help the car be more successful in Europe's subcompact segment, which is dominated by European brands.
The Rio's electronic stability control is standard equipment while autonomous emergency braking will be included on all but the entry-level version. The automaker is doing this because it believes customers' safety needs are not different just because the Rio is a small car, said Steffen Cost, Kia Germany's managing director. "Everyone wants maximum safety and everyone wants to have the opportunity to have these features," he said.
The Rio is Kia's best-selling car globally with an annual volume of 475,000 but in Europe the hatchback is only the brand's No. 4 seller. The Rio is under-represented due to the intense competition in Europe's largest segment, said Christian Spaetling, Kia Germany's product manager. The Rio also suffers because it is a global product built in Korea while the larger Cee'd compact hatchback is produced in Slovakia and tailored to European tastes. Unlike sibling brand Hyundai, which builds virtually all its cars sold in Europe either in the Czech Republic or Turkey, Kia imports about 44 percent of its volumes from Korea.