Kia remains keen as ever to bring its competitor to the top-selling Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to Australia, but there’s still no sign-off for the electrified Sportage to be sold locally.
Kia Australia has been speaking about its desire to offer the petrol-electric Sportage – already on sale in Korea – for the best part of 12 months now.
Australian buyers are voting with their wallets when it comes to hybrid mid-sized SUVs, with 72 per cent of all RAV4s sold last year being electrified.
Speaking with CarExpert recently, Kia Australia product development manager Roland Rivero said his main priority was getting the Sportage Hybrid confirmed and homologated for our market, and to deal with potential supply issues later.
“From a selfish product planning perspective, securing the powertrain is first priority. You have to start from somewhere,” Mr Rivero said.
“First and foremost is Australian certification and homologation, then development of the powertrain. Get that locked in, then pushing for more supply is the next step.”
Asked whether Kia Australia would follow a similar strategy to the larger Sorento, where hybrid power is available only in top-spec GT-Line trim, Mr Rivero the company would instead want multiple grades to cater for different customer bases on the Sportage.
“In the first instance, we would want to bring a GT-Line and maybe an SX – a middle ground that can satisfy a bit of fleet and a bit of entry. If supply was to open up a bit more, we’d probably go the full range.”
The bigger Kia Sorento Hybrid is limited to just 20 units per month at the moment, spread across front- and all-wheel drive, while the Sorento Plug-in Hybrid is in even tighter supply. All three electrified variants are exclusively available in top-spec GT-Line trim locally.
Mr Rivero confirmed the next-generation Niro – which will be offered in both hybrid (HEV) and EV versions – will be limited to 100-150 monthly units at launch. Kia Australia cites global demand, particularly in Europe, as the main reason for such short supply.
While the long-wheelbase Sportage sold in Australia doesn’t get sent to Europe, hybrid versions of our version supply numerous markets including South Korea and North America.
Despite ongoing supply challenges across its range, Kia Australia is expecting 2022 to be its best-ever year of sales, forecasting a yearly volume of 72,000 vehicles. Last year, the company recorded 67,964 registrations.
Of those 72,000 sales, Kia’s local division is expecting around 2000 units to be electrified including some 600 EV6s – 100 units more than initially promised.
By comparison, Toyota Australia regularly sells around 4000 RAV4 units per month, of which the majority are hybrids. It’s a similar sales mix for its popular Corolla, Camry, Kluger and Yaris Cross lines.
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