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Kia looking at bringing hybrid powertrains to India lineup

Kia Motors India is gearing up to introduce hybrid technology into its vehicle lineup, signaling a strategic shift in response to the growing demand for eco-friendly options

kia sorento performance hybrid engine

Kia Motors India has set its sights on expanding its vehicle lineup with hybrid technology, a strategic move following their foray into the all-electric vehicle space. While details remain confidential regarding specific models adopting this technology and their technical specifications, the company has confirmed plans to integrate hybrid powertrains into its Indian offerings.

In a conversation with Autocar India, Tae-Jin Park, Managing Director and CEO of Kia India, hinted at the potential for hybrids in their future portfolio. Park highlighted the opportunity to introduce hybrid technology as a replacement for diesel engines, although he acknowledged that diesel still commands a sizable 40 percent market share of Kia’s total sales. Nonetheless, Kia intends to continue providing diesel variants as long as they comply with regulations.

Kia is reportedly developing hybrid versions of its 1.2-liter and 1.5-liter naturally aspirated petrol engines for the Indian market. The company already has an established hybrid presence internationally with vehicles like the new Carnival MPV, K8 sedan, Niro crossover, and the Sorento and Sportage SUVs, featuring a 1.6-liter turbo-petrol engine paired with an electric motor. The key challenge for Kia will be adapting this technology cost-effectively for India, necessitating local production of motor components and battery technology.

The engines targeted for hybridization suggest that Kia’s popular models like the Seltos SUV, Carens MPV, and a future compact model might be among the first to receive the hybrid treatment. This new direction in Kia’s engine strategy complements their existing range of engine and transmission options, potentially opening up a new market segment and providing consumers with more choices.

The timing for Kia’s venture into hybrids is noteworthy. Recent trends in India show a surge in hybrid vehicle sales, surpassing those of electric vehicles (EVs). Between September and November 2023, hybrid vehicle sales reached 24,026 units, outperforming the 21,445 EVs sold in the same period. This shift is significant despite hybrids being subjected to a higher Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate of 43 percent compared to EVs, which benefit from a lower 5 percent rate. Kia’s upcoming compact SUV, expected to feature a 1.2-litre hybrid powertrain, will likely benefit from a reduced 28 percent GST rate applicable to sub-four-metre cars, making it a more economically attractive option compared to EVs.

The introduction of the new Kia compact SUV, codenamed AY, which is expected to debut in early 2025, could mark Kia’s first venture into the strong-hybrid segment in India. This model is likely to be positioned between the Sonet and the Seltos in Kia’s lineup. Additionally, Hyundai, Kia’s sister brand, is also expected to adopt this hybrid powertrain for its future SUV offerings, signaling a broader shift towards hybrid technology within the group.

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