Kia Australia says demand for the new Sportage medium SUV will exceed supply at launch, but more production slots have been locked in – good news for Australian consumers who are over waiting lists.

    The company’s COO Damien Meredith believes the greatly enhanced new model has the scope to sell more than 1700 units a month, which would put it up there with the related Hyundai Tucson and have it fighting for third-in-segment behind the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4.

    For context, it’s understood that the company took around 300 Sportage orders on the first weekend of sales alone.

    However, Kia is also telling us it can only bank on a guaranteed allocation of around 12,000 units of Sportage over the next twelve months, 1000 a month, which falls short of satisfying expected demand by a fair margin.

    The good news? Kia has secured a share in more than 100,000 additional build slots – not just for the Sportage, but also the hugely popular (and smaller) Seltos, and while details are murky we’re told at least a chunk of this new batch will be earmarked for Australia in 2022.

    It’s all thanks to US-market production switching from Kia’s plant in Gwangju, Korea, to its home-based Georgia plant, which will start producing the long-wheelbase Sportage soon enough. That means all those Gwangju spots can be re-allocated away from US-bound ships.

    The extra units made available will need to be shared with Russia, which like us and unlike Europe take the long-wheelbase variant – itself made in Slovakia for that Continent only.

    The Gwangju plant is also primed to supply the massive United States with the Sportage Hybrid – a car still unconfirmed for the Australian market, but perched atop the local wishlist to tackle Toyota’s top-selling petrol-electric RAV4, which on last count makes up more than 70 per cent of all RAV sales here.

    Granted, it’s a bit confusing. Mr Meredith said the following:

    “We can’t quantify specific numbers of additional vehicles we might get as a result of the production shift, given the appetite for Sportage in Russia is growing, and Seltos has found significant favour in the United States as an alternative to the previously popular Kia Soul, which of late has gone off the boil.”

    Meantime, as to the Sportage range that is already locked in, Kia’s head of product planning Roland Rivero told CarExpert he expects the spilt between petrol and diesel to be around 80:20, at least initially.

    Then there’s that mooted hybrid, which pairs the standard 130kW and 265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a single electric motor making an additional 44kW and 264Nm, although the combined outputs are said to be around 169kW and 350Nm.

    Although Kia produces both two- and four-wheel drive versions of the Sportage HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle), Kia Australia is looking to offer the latter.

    There’s also a plug-in hybrid available which Kia has on its wish list that couples a 66.9kW electric motor to the regular 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, as well as a 13.8kWh battery pack for a a pure EV range of more than 50km on a single charge.

    Watch this space for more updates as we get them.

    Anthony Crawford
    Anthony Crawford is a Senior Road Tester at CarExpert.
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