Kia India Exploring Alternative Fuel Options, Hybrid SUVs Coming?

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Kia Motor India is considering adding strong hybrid powertrain options to its vehicles, joining the green revolution in the automobile industry

Kia Motors India is contemplating the integration of hybrid technology into its existing lineup. CEO Tae-Jin Park acknowledges the potential shift, stating “there is some possibility for hybrids” as the brand explores opportunities to introduce electrified powertrains as a viable alternative to diesel. That said, diesel vehicles constitute 40% of Kia’s total sales in the Indian market, so the brand aims to strike a balance here.

According to reports, Kia is meticulously working to electrify its current 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines, tailored for the Indian market. In the international markets, the South Korean carmaker uses a more powerful 1.6-litre turbo-petrol hybrid powertrain, seen on the Carnival, Sorento, Sportage, etc., which offers a brilliant combo of power and performance but is much more expensive.

Cost efficiency remains a focal point, and Kia is actively exploring the localisation of motor components and battery technology to ensure a competitive market presence. The application of hybrid technology could extend to popular models like the Seltos and the Carens, perhaps even the Sonet, offering consumers additional eco-friendly options on each.

2023 Kia Sportage PHEV_

The timing of Kia’s exploration into hybrids coincides with an interesting trend in India. Hybrid vehicle sales have surpassed electric vehicle sales, marking a significant shift. From September to November 2023, hybrid vehicles recorded sales of 24,026 units, outpacing the 21,445 electric vehicles sold in the same period.

Despite the current higher GST rate of 43% on mid-size hybrids compared to the 5% for electric vehicles, we’re seeing hybrids consistently outsell EVs. To fit in the lower tax bracket, the forthcoming Kia compact SUV (codenamed: AY) could be a sub-four-metre hybrid vehicle. This strategic move could potentially narrow the price gap with electric vehicles.

2022 Kia Sportage PHEV 2

The potential introduction of hybrid powertrains, expected to commence with the Kia compact SUV in early 2025, signifies a strategic move towards a more sustainable and diverse product portfolio. Sister brand Hyundai is also speculated to adopt a similar powertrain for its future vehicles, marking a joint commitment to hybrid technology in the Indian automotive landscape.

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