Kia executives have admitted that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are a dead-end technology in Australia.

    Kia Australia chief executive officer Damien Meredith said as much to media last week, pointing to the fact fewer than 800 plug-in hybrids were sold in Australia during May – compared to more than 8100 electric cars.

    Compared to the same point last year EV sales are up by 275 per cent, with PHEV sales up a more moderate 18 per cent.

    Mr Meredith said he drives a PHEV himself, and “it’s perfect because [he’s] 10km from work”.

    “All I do each morning is [plug] it in and the great benefit is I don’t have to go to a petrol station,” said Mr Meredith. That doesn’t mean general punters agree.

    “I personally believe it’s a hard concept to sell,” added Kia Australia marketing general manager Dean Norbiato.

    “I don’t think the consumer understands it. No one has the critical mass from an OEM standpoint to educate on that.

    “There it’s always been such a splintered product line-up, and no one has that supply to do that job that needs to be with the industries.”

    Despite the Kia Australia executives admitting PHEVs are dead-end technology, Mr Meredith said the company won’t be getting rid of the last remaining PHEV in its local line-up.

    The Kia Sorento PHEV is the only vehicle of its sort in the company currently offers locally and it can’t be ordered right now due to crippled supply.

    When orders were open last year supply maxed out at 10 Sorento PHEVs per month.

    Kia Australia chief operating officer Dennis Piccoli told CarExpert it will reevaluate opening Sorento PHEV orders once the order bank is under control, which could potentially be with the mid-life update due in the fourth quarter of 2023.

    The brand recently removed the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain when introducing the second-generation Niro last year.

    “We did the tuning for [the second-generation Niro PHEV] and the homologation for it,” said Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero.

    “It could be called up at any point if there was some demand for one. At this stage it’s not happening.”

    In terms of other PHEV vehicles Kia Australia doesn’t currently offer, there is the Sportage PHEV. The now-defunct Niro Plus PHEV was also never offered locally.

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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