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Keurig’s Kelley Bets Big on Soda Maker

Brian Kelley became chief executive of Keurig Green Mountain Inc. nearly three years ago as something of a savior for the company, helping buoy its shares after an extended slide driven by investor concerns about its business model.

Now, following another stock slump, the CEO faces the biggest challenge of his tenure with the launch of Keurig’s first machine to make cold beverages.

Mr. Kelley says consumers and investors will be impressed with the unique chilling and carbonating technology of the Kold machine, which starts selling Tuesday. He says the Kold will open a new market for a company known for its coffee brewers and K-Cup pods. A former Coca-Cola Co. KO -0.23 % executive, Mr. Kelley also has the backing of that beverage giant, which owns a 16.8% stake in Keurig, according to FactSet. Coca-Cola is making its brands available for the Kold.

“We’re confident this is the next big growth engine for the company,” Mr. Kelley said in an interview.

But the Kold faces stiff competition and doubts from some industry analysts who say the long-awaited device is too expensive and too clunky for most people’s liking. The Kold’s purchase price will range from about $300 to $370, and it will use single-serve pods to make an 8-ounce glass of Diet Coke or other carbonated drinks at about $1 each.

Despite the stakes...