Corporate / Product
Meet the all-new Rio product manager April 1st, 2011
All-new Rio is the perfect vehicle for those living life to the fullest with passion. Kia Buzz met up with the product manager of all-new Rio to find out more about this upcoming addition to the Kia line-up.
Kia BUZZ: Hello. Thanks for making time for this interview. First, could you please give us a brief self-introduction?
Park: I am Min-Woo Park of the Overseas Product Marketing Team, and I have been working for Kia since 2005. I also worked at the Slovakia production unit as a production technology engineer until 2006. And I have held my current position since August 2006.
Kia BUZZ: We heard that you were the main product manager for the all-new Rio. Please tell us about what a product manager does.
Park: As a product manager, my tasks involve developing the most ideal product to suit the customers’ needs and tastes. Basically, I try to turn what the customers want in a vehicle into reality. In addition, I am also responsible for the overall process of deciding the specifications and setting the prices for the vehicles.
Kia BUZZ: We believe that a lot of creativity is needed for developing new products. Where do you find your inspiration for new ideas and motives?
Park: I like to look for inspiration by checking out competitors’ websites and reading automotive magazines. Rather than just limiting my reading to auto industry related information, I try to read up a wide range of books and magazines, as well as occasionally go to exhibitions as well.
Production & Design Story of the New European Flavored Rio
Kia BUZZ: We are curious about how you came up with the initial idea of the Rio’s development. Since you are in charge of Kia’s B-segment lineup, could you tell us what elements you consider when developing a product?
Park: In fact, Kia was not that strong in the B-segment European market. So Kia needed to strengthen its position to compete with strong rivals in the market. We have worked hard to incorporate the characteristics of the leading European offerings in the development of the Rio. Even in the B-segment, European consumers tend to be rather picky and prefer sophisticated and classy-looking vehicles. We tried to develop the Rio taking this into consideration.
Kia BUZZ: What would you say was the part that required the most amount of effort in developing the new Rio?
Park: Most of all, it was the design aspect. Although I didn’t design the Rio first hand, I did my best to infuse European elements into the Rio.
Kia BUZZ: Which competing models did you take into consideration when developing the Rio?
Park: I kept the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta in mind as our main rivals.
Kia BUZZ: The new Rio was received well at the recent Geneva Motor Show. What do you think was the main difference from the old model that led to such an enthusiastic welcoming of the new Rio?
Park: Most of all, the new Rio’s edgy design and its innovative CO2 emission level, which is the lowest in its segment, are the major differences.
Kia BUZZ: In terms of design, the front styling with Kia’s signature grille really stands out. Was there a particular reason for the significant changes of the logo placement and the grille design?
Park: The new Rio is the model that best demonstrates Kia’s family car concept, following the Sportage and the Optima. The front design went through a significant change in order to give it a typical European hatchback feel.
Kia BUZZ: Rio’s side roof & character line seem to resemble that of the pro_cee’d (3-door version of the c’eed). Are these aspects related? Also, will the Rio be available in a 3-door version as well?
Park: The two design aspects are not directly related. Perhaps in highlighting the strengths of a hatchback design, the design profile may have turned out to look similar. And, yes, there are plans to release a 3-door version of the Rio in Europe from November this year.
New Rio’s Biggest Strengths: Fuel Efficiency and Eco-friendliness
Kia BUZZ: In terms of performance, what would you say is the new Rio’s biggest strength?
Park: For the first time in Kia’s compact car history, a 1.6GDI engine will be offered for the North American market. The new Rio is expected to have excellent fuel efficiency even better than the Honda Insight hybrid.
Moreover, the U2-1.1 diesel engine boosts class leading CO2 emissions of 85g which will cause quite a stir around the world.
Kia BUZZ: We have heard that 1.2 GDI turbo version will also be offered. When will it become available? Also, will it be correct to consider it as a kind of a sports edition, like the VW Polo GTI?
Park: We have plans to release it during the second half of the year, and we are still looking into the possibility of developing a sports edition of the Rio.
Product Developer: His Story
Kia BUZZ: What are the three words best explain the new Rio?
Park: Revolution, Innovation and Hot
Kia BUZZ: What is a ‘good car’ for you?
Park: It would be a car that the driver can rely and depend on.
Kia BUZZ: What would be the vehicle you would personally like to own and why?
Park: I personally recommend the all-new Sportage, which I currently own. It’s because of the Sportage’s design and the interior package. I also quite like the R diesel engine’s fuel efficiency.
Kia BUZZ: You must be busy with the upcoming launch of the Rio. Do you have any holiday plans once the launch is done?
Park: After the launch, I would like to take a break in Spain. Though I’m not sure whether that’ll be possible.
Kia BUZZ: What would like to say to Kia Buzz?
Park: I hope much more Kia fans visit Kia Buzz to communicate with us in terms of technology, our brand story and new cars. As you know, the more you tell us, the better we can develop Kia cars. Please visit us and let us know about your idea by leaving comments.
Kia BUZZ: Thank you once again, for your valuable time today.