It's logical that an automaker's dealers would be thrilled to sell their biggest and/or most prestigious models. That's not happening lately. News the Kia K900 is only being sold at a fraction of Kia outlets sounds strange, but it isn't. It's actually smart.
Edmunds' report of only about 220 of Kia's 600-something U.S. dealers signing up to sell the K900 comes right after news that only half of Cadillac dealers are going to stock and service the ELR electric coupe. In both cases, dealers were being asked to pony up considerable chunks of change.
Kia is reportedly asking about $30,000 worth of dealership upgrades and staff training for the K900 to be on the lot. The "showroom kit," as it's referred to, sounds lovely:
The showroom kit includes dark wood inlays that are cut into the showroom floor, where only one car, the K900, will be positioned. The kit provides displays highlighting the car's exterior colors and trims, and an iPad-like device that offers a video showing some of the car's features.
Not $30,000 worth of lovely, mind you.
But those wood inlays represent an important point in the K900 and Kia's prestige ambitions. Honda, Toyota and Nissan required separate buildings to sell Acura, Lexus and Infiniti models. That's why there were, and are, relatively few of those dealers compared to their mainstream parent brands.
Kia, and Hyundai for that matter, don't want to go through the expensive gamble of launching whole new divisions, but they need to make sure only the best of their facilities have something as expensive as a K900. Kia's rapid growth means a lot of its facilities were built to sell GMs or Chryslers or whatever brand that rid itself of a lot of locations in the last few years.
More importantly, though, the K900 is being pitched as something luxurious, something exclusive against Kia's mainstream offerings. Having mainstream availability will hurt that.
As it turns out, 220 dealers getting wood inlays on the showroom floor is probably plenty.