Once a car become associated throughout the car world with a certain type of buyer it can be difficult to shake off that stigma, even generations on from that stereotype’s birth.
Long surviving stigmas include the ‘boy racer’ generalisations of cars like the Ford Focus ST, the pushy, arrogant executive types often associated with Audi and BMWs, and the fashion conscious well-off teenagers that are so often tied to the Fiat 500, there’s even a parody Twitter account set up to mock them.
But some new car image problems are unique to locations and not shared around the world. Take cars like the Kia Soul and Honda Jazz, for example. In the UK, if you paint them with an unfairly broad brush, they are generally bought by the over fifties. However, over in the US, both models are successfully targeted at a much younger audience.
The differences have been a particular problem for the Soul, which has seen dwindling sales in the UK contrasting with continuing popularity in the US. Arguably, another factor is the arrival of the similarly sized Stonic over on our shores. A repositioning means that the Soul will come to the UK in electric form only, which could be a masterstroke for its image.
After all, EVs are still associated with the stereotypically young, tech-savvy, urbanite early adopters. By distancing it from the outgoing Soul, Kia could find itself with a hit on its hands - although the UK’s biggest problem could be supply, as Kia bosses reckon they’ll struggle to get more than 1,000 a year here.