Kia evaluating hybrids for India

    Strong hybrids seen as an alternative to small diesels, which are unlikely to meet future emissions regulations.

    Published On Dec 19, 2023 03:15:00 PM

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    Kia evaluating hybrids for India
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    Having already made its foray into the all-electric space, Kia Motors India is now actively looking at bringing hybrid products to its line-up. While some details – such as the technical specifications and what models will be powered by hybrids – are scarce, the company has confirmed that it is actively considering introducing hybrid tech in India.

    1. Kia mulling strong hybrid powertrain for India
    2. 1.2-litre petrol- and 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrids likely
    3. To tap growing demand for hybrids

    Speaking to Autocar India, Tae-Jin Park, MD and CEO of Kia India, said, “I think there is some possibility [for hybrids] and we are looking for some opportunity to introduce our new technology of the hybrid that could replace diesel.” However, he did reiterate that diesel demand is still strong and accounts for 40 percent of total sales and that Kia would continue selling diesels as long as regulations allow.

    Sources tell us that Kia is working on electrifying its existing 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol units for the Indian market. The Korean brand does have strong hybrids on sale in international markets – models such as the recently showcased new Carnival MPV, the K8 sedan, the Niro crossover, and the Sorento and Sportage SUVs all have a 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol engine paired with an electric motor that derives power from a relatively small battery pack.

    As such, the same technology used in those international models needs to trickle down in a way that can be cost-efficient – localisation of motor components and battery tech will be essential to keep costs in check. Given the size of the engines being considered for hybridisation, these new powertrains could potentially find their way into the likes of the Seltos midsize SUV, the Carens MPV and a future sub-four-metre model.

    The Korean company already offers a varied selection of engine and transmission options across its portfolio. Kia’s entry into the hybrid market should open up another segment for the brand as well as offer an additional option for buyers.

    Interestingly, the timing seems to be apt: monthly sales of hybrid vehicles in India have recently overtaken EV sales, despite a relative lack of models to choose from. Between September to November 2023, sales of strong hybrid vehicles totalled 24,026 units, compared to 21,445 EVs sold in the same duration, which suggests the ‘tipping point’ where hybrids consistently outsell EVs has been reached. And that’s despite the current crop of midsize hybrids which attract a much higher GST rate of 43 percent, compared to the 5 percent for EVs. The upcoming Kia compact SUV sporting a 1.2-litre hybrid powertrain will make it eligible for a lower 28 percent tax bracket for sub-four-metre cars, which should narrow the price gap with EVs.

    The introduction of a new Kia compact SUV (codenamed AY), which will slot between the Sonet and the Seltos, could be the first strong-hybrid Kia model when it is launched in early 2025. Sister brand, Hyundai, too is likely to share the same powertrain for its future SUVs.

    Also see:

    Kia Sonet facelift makes global debut

    Kia Seltos facelift video review

    Kia Cars

    Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.

    Comments

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    unknown - 160 days ago

    If Kia can price it right (like it always does) and comes kitted well and with good performance, it will fly of the shelves...

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