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KIA as a car brand is known for car models with a smooth ride, a decent new-vehicle warranty, and ample cargo space, but why are KIAs cheap?

Every car owner has reasons as to why they prefer a specific brand’s model. Some people are after the thrill and speed, while others are looking for a functional car for their family. The cost of the vehicle will also depend on the features you need, how it’s manufactured, and the brand. While some buyers don’t mind the cost of the vehicle, a few buyers will pay attention to the features that come with the price.

KIAs are cheap because they use plastic as the raw material for their vehicle bodies. Their production line is short, and have a reputation of being a disposable car as they are built to last five to seven years. The low cost of labor is another reason for KIA’s affordability.

The brand’s entrance to the U.S. wasn’t smooth and most people considered KIA a cheap brand with poorly built cars. However, over the years, the Korean company has sought to dismiss these claims by investing in research and manufacturing to prove KIA’s reliability.

Read on to learn more on the reasons KIA is cheap and if you should consider purchasing one.

Having conducted our research and spoken to several automobile manufacturing experts, here’s what we discovered.

Table of Contents

6 Reasons KIAs are Cheap

Some of the reasons KIAs are affordable include:

1. Substandard  Materials

KIA uses plastic to manufacture most of its car models.

A good example is the KIA Soul EV which uses biodegradable plastic.  Bio-based plastics are derived from sugar cane and cellulose. The plastic is used on the roof pillars, headliner, door panels, seat trim, and carpeting.

KIA uses plastic as it’s light, which means there’s less weight and your engine won’t struggle to pull the weight on the road. It’s also easier to recycle plastic in its frame at the end of the car’s life compared to steel. Plastic is cheaper to repair, which also reduces maintenance costs.

Using plastic as the raw material for their cars means they get to save on the cost of expensive metal or aluminum. That allows the brand to lower its prices compared to other brands.

A model like the KIA Sportage earned its reputation of being an unreliable car due to its build quality and poor assembly. That’s also believed to have led to multiple mechanical and body issues.

2. Low Cost of Labor

Kia is a subsidiary of Hyundai and most of its models are made in Seoul, South Korea.  Unlike the U.S. or Europe where the cost of labor is high, South Korea has relatively affordable labor, and this is one of the reasons KIAs cars may be cheaper compared to other automotive brands. Furthermore, they don’t have to pay taxes to import to other countries.

However, the low cost of labor also translates into cheap quality. The lack of standards in a production line could result in other issues in the future that not only affect the consumer, but also the brand's sales and reliability.

One of the areas KIA cars have failed is in gas mileage. These cars are known to have poor gas mileage as they tend to consume more fuel at high speeds.

3. Low Resale Value

The brand has over the years prioritized economic models over performance models. Well-maintained KIA cars have no resale value after they’ve been used for over five years because they are meant to last for only 5-7 years.

That’s why the company reduces the sales price of new cars for them to sell fast.

Kia's low resale value could also be due to incentives and rebates.  Every time an automobile manufacturer offers new car incentives, there are high chances that the new cars aren’t selling and the manufacturer has to lower the vehicle price for it to sell. With KIA, drivers can get rebates in thousands of dollars or opt for low financing rates.

A new Kia Optima retails at $25,844, but with depreciation of 43.8%, the car is expected to retail at $11,887 at year five.

4. Built to Last for 5-7 Years

KIA cars can only last for five to seven years, an aspect that’s considered to be due to the low cost of production and use of substandard raw materials.

High-end car models are packed with multiple functions and features to make them durable. That adds to the overall cost of the car.

With a limited lifespan, KIA cars can’t be as costly as German car options.

5. Limited Production Line

Renowned car brands have extensive manufacturing and assembling lines. Their sophisticated production lines are designed to deliver performance-oriented and high-end vehicles. However, this isn’t the same with KIA.

The car manufacturer doesn't deliver the same quality of cars and values those from renowned Japanese and German automakers.

6. Target Market

While KIA ranks next to Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, one of the reasons why it’s cheaper is its target market. The brand’s target market is anyone who wants an affordable car and a decent warranty.

Are KIAs Reliable?

KIA has over the years proven to be a trusted brand in the automotive industry. It’s one of the few brands that offer a seven-year warranty, while other brands will provide the utmost three years. The brand also provides a 100,000-mile power train warranty, which is spread out in two parts.

The first is 60,000 miles for five years and 100,000 miles for ten years. The powertrain warranty covers manufacturer issues, transmission problems, and engine repair.

Wondering how many miles a KIA can last? Kia vehicles can get to over 100,000 miles, with some models like the KIA Soul reaching over 300,000 miles.

However, gas mileage on KIA cars isn’t impressive. Additionally, these cars are built to last for five to seven years, which means the vehicle quality isn’t the best. While KIAs are cheaper,  there are some great qualities and features of the brand that make them reliable.

Why Are Kias So Cheap?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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