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First Kia Seltos Hybrid to join line-up next year, rivalling Toyota in 'hybrids to the front' strategy - report

The Seltos shares underpinnings with the Hyundai Kona, which has hybrid and EV variants. (Image: Tom White)

The next Kia Seltos is set to arrive with a hybrid variant, borrowing tech from its Hyundai Kona cousin to join the larger Sorento SUV in Kia’s electrification game, according to reports from South Korea.

The Korea Economic Daily says Hyundai Motor Group, which also owns Kia and the luxury brand Genesis, is shifting focus more heavily to hybrid cars to account for increasing sales of electrified cars and an apparent slow down in the popularity of new electric cars.

Along with expecting a series of hybrid cars for the Genesis brand to bolster its range and appeal to those “hesitant to switch to all-electric vehicles”, The Korea Economic Daily (KED) reports Kia will add a Seltos Hybrid small SUV to the line-up next year, along with mentions of a new Santa Fe Hybrid and a Palisade Hybrid from sibling brand Hyundai.

The Seltos, Kia’s cousin to the Hyundai Kona, is based on the same platform as the previous-gen Kona, so a new Seltos could adopt the same platform as the current Kona which was launched in 2023 with a Kona Hybrid available from the start.

The move follows shifting buying habits when it comes to electrification, with hybrid cars increasing in popularity and the surge of electric car sales slowing.

Hyundai Motor reports, “for the full year 2023, 695,382 electrified models were sold in the global market, up 37.2 per cent year over year, including 268,785 EVs and 373,941 hybrids”.

The next Kia Seltos is set to arrive with a hybrid variant, borrowing tech from its Hyundai Kona cousin. (Image: Tom White)

But KED notes that Hyundai’s percentage of hybrid sales compared to its total is rising - reaching 10.6 per cent in Q4 2023, versus 7.1 per cent in Q4 2022 - while BEVs are down from 5.7 per cent to 5.3 per cent in the same periods.

More hybrid models from Kia would better place it to take on market leader Toyota (in Australia and globally), which is outspoken in its push for more hybrid cars rather than full battery electric cars.

“As the transition to electric vehicles is unexpectedly delayed, hybrid cars have taken the lead in the global car market,” an industry official told The Korea Economic Daily.

The popularity of hybrid cars has been increasing, while the surge of electric car sales is slowing. (Image: Tom White)

“Now the key to survival becomes when they will launch hybrid cars with a competitive line-up,” they added.

Kia’s line-up of electrified vehicles in Australia currently consists of the Niro small SUV in hybrid or EV, Sorento large SUV in hybrid or plug-in hybrid, and the electric EV6 and EV9.

Hyundai, on the other hand, has hybrid or electric versions of five models across a broader range of sizes and prices - from the i30 Hybrid at $33,000 before on-road costs to the incoming Ioniq 5 N sports EV, set to cost $111,000.

Chris Thompson
Racing video games, car-spotting on road trips, and helping wash the family VL Calais Turbo as a kid were all early indicators that an interest in cars would stay present in...
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