Kia Australia has received strong interest in the electrified Sorento Hybrid (HEV) and Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV), but describes the current supply of said models as “tokenism”.
Speaking with CarExpert at the recent media launch for the facelifted Seltos crossover, Kia Australia’s chief operations officer Damien Meredith and general manager for product planning Roland Rivero, said the supply situation hasn’t improved since launch.
“Our back orders are building up,” said Mr Rivero, “there’s a lot of interest, and that’s why we can’t offer it on every variant because it’s just going to create a bigger problem.”
“We’re getting a small stream of stock, tokenism at best.”
Mr Meredith added: “We’re getting few, very few”.
“I think sometimes we forget we’re only 2.57 per cent of global output – we’ve got to be thankful for what we get.”
All versions of the Kia Sorento for Australia are produced at Kia’s Hwaseong facility in South Korea, which is the same production line used for European and UK production, as well as hybrid versions for North America.
High global demand, particularly for the Sorento HEV and PHEV, gives priority to markets with tighter emissions regulations and higher volume, such as Europe and the US, pushing Australia further down in the queue.
Further, looking overseas, the Sorento range is almost entirely electrified in markets like Europe and the UK, where there are three or four trim levels for the HEV and PHEV, and just one grade for the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. Further, the US market produces its own non-hybrid Sorentos, much like it does with the new Sportage.
Earlier this year, Kia Australia confirmed it would be receiving around 20 units per month of the Sorento HEV across FWD and AWD variations, alongside circa 10 monthly units of the PHEV. It’s forced the company to only offer the electrified powertrains in the top-spec GT-Line grade.
That means the minimum you’ll pay for an electrified Sorento in Australia is the GT-Line HEV FWD’s starting price of $66,750 before on-road costs, or $72,580 drive-away using a Melbourne postcode.
By comparison, the Toyota Kluger Hybrid is available across all three trim levels offered in Australia, with prices starting at $54,150 plus on-road costs for the entry-level GX AWD Hybrid.
Both the Sorento Hybrid and Sorento PHEV feature a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery pack and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Hybrid uses a 1.49kWh battery and an electric motor with 44kW of power and 264Nm of torque, for system outputs of 169kW and 350Nm.
The PHEV uses a larger 13.8kWh water-cooled battery and a more powerful 67kW/304Nm electric motor, for system outputs of 195kW and 350Nm.
The PHEV can also run on pure electric power, up to 57km on the WLTP combined cycle and up to 70km on a pure urban cycle.
Despite long-running supply issues for the Australian market, the Sorento is showing steady growth this year on the VFACTS sales charts.
Kia has delivered 5574 units to the end of October, up 21.7 per cent on the same Jan-Oct period in 2021. That puts it ahead of both the Hyundai Santa Fe (3583 units) and Palisade (3420 units), as well as the Mazda CX-8 (4905 units). It’s also not far behind the Mazda CX-9 (5916 units), but a long shot away from the Toyota Kluger (10,989 units).
Mr Rivero recently confirmed with CarExpert that supply of petrol and diesel versions of the seven-seat SUV is improving through to the end of the year, though was unable to forecast what things will be like in 2023.
“We anticipate overall supply for Sorento – excluding HEV and PHEV – will be good for the next couple of months to see through the remainder of 2022,” Mr Rivero said.
“For Sorento specifically, the semiconductor issue seems to be improving, from which Australia is reaping the benefits. At this stage though, it’s difficult to forecast what the precise supply situation will be in 2023.”
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