KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has officially confirmed that hybrid power will be coming to its new Sorento seven-seat SUV in not one, but two forms, with the electrified versions due to touch down locally early next year.
Speaking to journalists at the national media launch of the new fourth-generation Sorento, KMAu product planning general manager Roland Rivero announced that both a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and a self-charging hybrid powertrain had been given the green light Down Under.
“We expect to have the development work and homologation work completed ASAP, and we should see stock arriving early in 2021,” he said.
This rough timing aligns neatly with Kia Motors Europe’s (KME) planned rollout for the PHEV variant, having already launched the normal hybrid version.
Along with announcing the local timing of the PHEV, KME also detailed the new powertrain which will centred around a 134kW/265Nm version of the Hyundai Motor Group’s turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.
Electric power will come courtesy of a 67kW/304Nm electric motor, drawing its juice from a high-capacity 13.8kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack stashed under the floor of the cabin.
When all is said and done, KME is quoting a combined power output of 198kW/350Nm, however its all-electric range is yet to be confirmed “pending homologation”.
“The Sorento plug-in hybrid’s all-electric range will be sufficient to enable drivers to complete most short drives on electric power alone,” KME said in a statement.
Drive will be sent to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, as opposed to the eight-speed dual-clutch and torque converter units in the diesel and petrol models.
As for the normal hybrid system, primary power is sourced from the same force-fed 1.6-litre mill as the PHEV, only this time it is paired with a 1.49kWh lithium-ion battery and 44.2kW electric motor, generating a combined system output of 169kW/350Nm.
Speaking to GoAuto after the initial Sorento media event, Mr Rivero indicated that the PHEV variant(s) would be the first to arrive, followed closely by the hybrid, although he would not be drawn into revealing much more.
“More details regarding Australian specific spec will be revealed closer to launch,” he said.
“Sorento PHEV will be the first Kia green vehicle, and we are planning/negotiating for more to come.
“The major challenge in the Kia World is supply, largely due to battery supply, and as such understandably, priority has been given to regions which have CO2 regulations.
“In any case, Kia Australia, in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, is strongly negotiating for greater availability of green cars.”
While the local specs are yet to be detailed, the European PHEVs will be adorned in ‘eco plug-in’ badges and feature a redesigned digital instrument cluster with new and unique graphics and dials to provide drivers with clear information as to the powertrain’s status, including battery charge.
The infotainment system will also have a charging point finder built in.
Once the electrified variants do arrive Down Under, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said he expects them to make up between 10 and 15 per cent of total Sorento sales.
“We’ll be conservative in our forecasting in the initial stages to gauge how the hybrid product resonates with our brand,” he said.
“We’re obviously confident, but in the initial stages we don’t see more than 10-15 per cent of the mix being hybrid.”
In the meantime, Mr Meredith said he was expecting a 65:35 split between the diesel and petrol variants – partially due to the diesel’s earlier arrival time – with the bar set relatively high with 400 sales per month expected across the range.
KMAu has shifted 1860 Sorentos (third-gen) so far this year ending August, accounting for 3.3 per cent of the sub-$70,000 large SUV segment.