“We looked at it. It’s a beautiful car and obviously it’s a big deal in Europe mainly because they love estates over there,” Kia Motors America product planning vice president Orth Hendricks said.
The company hinted at the possibility of an estate version of the Optima last March when it showcased the Sportspace concept in Switzerland.
“What we found is that [an Optima wagon customer] is right on top of our Sorento buyer.” The Optima is Kia’s best-selling product in the U.S. where last year the company reported 159,020 sales compared to the Sorento, which was its third-best seller last year at 102,520 units. Combined, they accounted for 45 percent of Kia’s U.S. sales in 2014.
A wagon version of the Optima might serve to elevate Kia’s profile in the European auto market, but that won’t be enough to justify the business case.
“We looked at the volume and we looked at the number of people that would choose it and what it would cost,” he said.
But bridging the gap from show concept to series production of a salable product would be expensive. Kia builds Optimas for this market and globally at its West point, Ga. plant. “It would be a whole other set of tooling to bring all that stuff in,” Hendricks said.
So for now, the possibility of an Optima station wagon will remain firmly in conceptual territory.
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