Kia Looks to Avoid Mid-life Blues for Soul Hatch

The Soul has been a successful vehicle for Kia, selling well and maybe even making the entire brand seem just a bit cooler. Now that the Soul is entering the middle of its production life, Kia says limited edition models is just one way they’ll keep the Soul feeling fresh in the market.

Kia is trying to learn from other image-oriented vehicles it follows, like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Scion xB, and Honda Element. Scion is no stranger to special edition models. The latest — called the xB Release Series 8.0 — features Voodoo Blue paint, altered trim details, and the V-8 from the Lexus LS 460 (OK, perhaps that last bit isn’t true). It appears Kia might need more than special trim packages and an amusing ad campaign involving hamsters.

Dealers are pleased with the special edition strategy.

“They see we are trying to keep [the Soul] fresh and keep the momentum, so they get excited by it,” said Michael Sprague, vice president-marketing for Kia Motors America, to Ward’s Auto. “[Consumers say], ‘I like the Soul, I like the uniqueness of it and I like this limited-edition because it’s even more unique.’”

Soon, the Kia Soul will undergo a refresh with updated styling, and more content. Don’t expect a huge ad push for the 2012 Kia Soul or even the Rio subcompact, especially with the new Optima midsize sedan arriving in dealerships.

Kia sold 31,621 Souls in 2009 and then more than doubled that total in 2010 to 67,110. That sales performance was high enough to make the Soul the third-best selling Kia in the U.S. behind the Sorento midsize crossover and nearly tied with the Forte compact. Through the first two months of 2011, the Soul’s sales are twice as high as they were during the first two months of 2010.

To sustain Soul sales, what type of special edition model would you like to see?

Source: Ward’s Auto (Subscription Required)