The Sonet is soon to join the ranks as Kia’s smallest SUV. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Sonet is soon to join the ranks as Kia’s smallest SUV. Picture: SUPPLIED

Shortly after launching its Seltos as a compact SUV slotting in under the Sportage, Kia is getting ready to introduce an even smaller SUV.

The Sonet concept vehicle was launched at last week’s Auto Expo 2020 in Delhi, India, and is to enter the Indian market as a production model in the second half of the year, before being launched in other global markets. 

It’s expected to be just under 4m in length, which makes it notably smaller than the 4.3m Seltos. The Sonet is based on the recently launched Venue from sister firm Hyundai, and the two vehicles will compete directly against each other.

It is styled with Kia’s signature “tiger-nose” grille, along with “tiger-eye line” daytime running lights and wide rear signature lighting.

The interior has been hidden but Kia says the vehicle will be made for young, social, connected and tech-savvy buyers. As such it will be equipped with an infotainment and navigation system, and Bose premium audio. The concept car also hints at best-in-class interior space.

Though Kia hasn’t made a final decision, it’s very likely the Sonet will come to SA given the popularity of the B-segment SUV market. Two of the vehicles most recently launched into the local segment, the Venue and the VW T-Cross, are already notching up impressive sales.


VW Polo reaches production milestone

VW Polos being trucked out of the Uitenhage plant. Picture: SUPPLIED
VW Polos being trucked out of the Uitenhage plant. Picture: SUPPLIED

Volkswagen Group SA (VWSA) reached a new milestone in January when it produced its 200,000th unit of the Volkswagen Polo for the export market.

With Polos being manufactured ahead of schedule at the Uitenhage plant, the 200,000th vehicle for export rolled off the line on January 31. This milestone also brings the total number of exports for the company by the end of January to 1,098,960 vehicles.

The Uitenhage plant has been manufacturing the current generation of the Polo since September 2017. The Polo is exported to all right-hand drive markets and supplements production for certain left-hand drive markets as well.

This export milestone follows a year of records for VWSA in 2019. The company manufactured 161,954 vehicles in 2019, surpassing the previous record of 137,758 vehicles produced in 2011. VWSA ended the year with a 23.4% passenger market share.


Peugeot-Citroen appoints new SA boss

Market share drive: Leslie Ramsoomar, right, takes over from Xavier Gobille at Peugeot-Citroën. Picture: SUPPLIED
Market share drive: Leslie Ramsoomar, right, takes over from Xavier Gobille at Peugeot-Citroën. Picture: SUPPLIED

Leslie Ramsoomar has been appointed as MD of Peugeot Citroën SA, effective February 1 2020.

In this new role he will support Groupe PSA’s ambition to achieve a 5% market share in SA by 2024, from the current 0.5%. This will include bringing the Opel brand, which is part of the global group, into the local PCSA team.

Ramsoomar brings over 20 years of retail & OEM automotive industry experience, in both SA and international operations, with roles in sales, marketing and business management. 

He takes over as MD from Xavier Gobille, who will continue supporting the PCSA organisation and work on growth strategies and business development for the group in SA.

Over the past two years Gobille oversaw the restructuring of both sales and after sales at PCSA, signing new and strategic dealer partnerships and reintroducing the Citroën brand to the market.

“Leslie’s mission is to drive PCSA operations to the next level. He possesses the knowledge, experience and leadership to deliver market-best levels of customer satisfaction, efficiency and financial performance,” said Samir Cherfan, executive vice-president Middle East and Africa. 

“I would like to thank Xavier Gobille as well as PCSA staff for their strong contribution in turning around the operations. Now we have all the conditions to accelerate,” he said.

French-born Gobille also helped mastermind the turnaround of rival Renault SA’s fortunes a decade ago, turning the troubled brand to SA’s sixth-largest vehicle brand with a nearly 5% market share.


Ford invents emoji clothes for cyclists

Cyclists share their feelings with a high-tech top. Picture: AFP
 Cyclists share their feelings with a high-tech top. Picture: AFP

As part of its Share The Road campaign, Ford has created an emoji jacket, a prototype coat for cyclists with a screen-like back that can communicate with drivers via a display of emojis.

This jacket was created so that those on a bicycle can better communicate with drivers without having to remove their hands from the handlebars or dangerously turn their head away from traffic. A screen-like digital display has been integrated into the back panel that can show one of six emojis to convey cyclists’ plans of action and emotions  — a smiley face, a frowny face, a straight face, left and right arrows, and a hazard signal, which can be selected via a wireless remote on the bike’s handlebars.

The emoji jacket prototype is one-of-a-kind as it hasn’t been designed to go into production, but rather to demonstrate “how tensions could be eased by enabling riders to more easily and more clearly show drivers what their intentions are, and how they are feeling”.