Kia Australia won’t have an answer to the best-selling Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or the emerging Subaru Forester Hybrid anytime soon, with the fourth-generation Sportage mid-size SUV due locally around September next year to be sold without a hybrid powertrain, be it mild, ‘self-charging’ or plug-in.
Speaking to CarsGuide last week, Kia Australia general manager of product planning Roland Rivero revealed the company won’t be able to source a hybrid version of the new Sportage, which would otherwise directly or indirectly compete with the self-charging RAV4 Hybrid and Forester Hybrid.
“We’re really tied to what’s being developed globally, and at this stage, out of the Gwangju factory (in South Korea), where Sportage is sourced, there is no alternative of that nature,” he said.
“If you’re talking mild hybrid, it’s being produced out of (Kia’s) factory in Europe, and it’s actually a slightly different vehicle. It’s not a case of we can just grab everything.
“Unfortunately, coming out of the Slovakian factory, it’s not easy to source a product from there, given the freight costs and the time to bring the product.”
Either way, Mr Rivero confirmed self-charging and plug-in hybrid variants of the next Sportage won’t be available globally, with the mild version to target Europe, a market with strict emissions regulations.
He added the new Sportage “will be lobbing at the tail end of next year” in Australia, with it to be revealed internationally in the months prior, likely after a teaser campaign.
Mr Rivero declined to comment further on the next Sportage, although it’s sure to follow in the tyre tracks of the fourth-generation Sorento large SUV, which is now in showrooms and due to add self-charging and plug-in hybrid variants from early next year.
“Sportage is very important to Kia, and a lot of investments have been put into Sportage over the years. That new car is going to continue that tradition,” he said.