- Hybrid Seltos not on the horizon
- Kia execs do see potential, however
- Niro to do hybrid-heavy-lifting in Aus for now
The facelifted 2023 Kia Seltos was released in Australia this week packing a more frugal turbo petrol powertrain, but no hybrid option to rival the Toyota Corolla Cross or Honda HR-V.
Kia justified this choice by pointing to the recently-refreshed Niro, another small SUV that offers conventional hybrid and battery-electric power in Australia.
“In some brands there’s only one small SUV offering and the powertrains will be diverse for that one model”, said GM product planning Roland Rivero.
Pointing to Hyundai, Rivero added “you only have to look at our sister brand where Kona does all the heavy lifting and is offered in multiple powertrains. I think Niro being part of the same segment [as Seltos] made it a case of, well, we don’t really need a hybrid in the Seltos at the moment.”
“With this current generation of Seltos, there’s no plan to introduce a hybrid.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the future will forever be that way. There might be some optimisation in time. But at this point, if you look at the short term, Niro is Niro and Seltos is Seltos”, Rivero said.
Kia’s product lifecycle is typically six years. The Seltos midlife facelift came three years after the car’s initial 2019 Australian release, meaning we can expect a new gen – potentially electrified – in 2025.
Is there really no space for a hybrid Seltos?
The Kia Seltos range runs from $31,690 drive-away for a base 2.0-litre petrol front-wheel-drive S to $47,690 for the flagship GT-Line AWD. The best fuel consumption is achieved by the FWD Seltos, at 6.9L/100km.
Meanwhile, the Niro range kicks off with the S hybrid, priced from $44,380 (before on-road costs), while the GT-Line commands $50,030. Both return a combined fuel consumption of 4.0L/100km in the ADR combined cycle.
The Niro may be more efficient, but it’s also a more expensive vehicle compared to Seltos. This is reflected in sales figures, with Kia targeting around 10,000 annual Seltos sales. In October, Kia sold 764 examples of the Seltos (just ahead of the facelift hitting dealers), vs 207 Niros.
When asked if a hybrid Seltos would perform, Rivero said: “Hybrids in general are in strong demand. You only have to look at the success that Toyota is having today with its hybrid range.
“If positioned right and specced right, then Australians will go for it. And with fuel prices right now I think any savings that can transfer through to the household will be appreciated by Australians, no matter what.
“I think that there are opportunities there, and that’s been proven by the likes of Toyota, that you do the product strategy right and customers will buy,” Rivero concluded.