What do the Pontiac G8, Chevrolet SS and Kia Stinger have in common? They all were deliciously potent and near-universally-lauded rear-wheel-drive sedans that didn’t sell as well as hoped and were dogged by death knells soon after hitting the market. Unlike the GM sedans, the Stinger’s still very much with us, but perhaps not for much longer. According to the Korean Car Blog, “local industry sources” allege Kia gave its South Korean plants their 2022 production schedules. The document apparently indicated the Sohari facility where all Stingers are built will be retooled to assemble electrified vehicles like the Kia Carnival Hybrid at the beginning of Q2, and by the end of Q2, the Stinger will retire to the grave to make way.
We’re putting this rumor here as a placeholder because, like that fictional boy raising alarms about some even more fictional wolves, we’ve heard it all before. Yet that fabled child found that wolves do show up unexpectedly, and it’s possible that this time the Stinger is as done for as those fabled sheep. The rationale for such a decision hasn’t changed since the first forewarnings three years ago: sales are well below where Kia hoped, and they aren’t getting closer to target. Through the end of June 2021 the sedan’s U.S. sales are up just 147 units compared to 2020, and down 323 units compared to 2019. Compared to the sales of the German sedans the Stinger had hoped to challenge, the Stinger’s 6,498 units so far this year are about 53% of Audi A4 sales and 27% of BMW 3 Series sales.
The six- or seven-year production cycle for Kia products means we would have expected a second-gen Stinger around 2024. The refreshed 2022 Stinger only arrived in the U.S. in March of this year, bringing a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a fractionally more powerful six-cylinder, some new tech, design tweaks and a Scorpion special edition. It’s capable of holding out three more years if Kia chooses to keep it around. Or it’s possible Kia wants to devote its energy to the future, where vehicles like the Kia EV6 electric crossover will likely be more popular and profitable than the Stinger.