Kia Australia says it can’t make the business case work for the new-generation Optima hybrid when the model arrives later this year.
On the eve of the official unveiling of the 2016 Kia Optima, the decision has been made to bring the naturally aspirated 2.4-litre as well as the 2.0-litre turbo, but the hybrid model remains off the cards for the foreseeable future.
Previously Kia Australia had hinted that the hybrid model was on the cards, but the decision has been made to scrap it at the model’s launch.
“We were looking at a case for it, but we have been unable to make a business case for that car.” Kia Australia’s general manager of media & corporate communications Kevin Hepworth, told CarAdvice in New York today.
“When you look at who is selling hybrids in the market, they have a support of some description for it generally. They don’t sell big numbers and the way it stands at the moment we just can’t find a way to make it pay its way in Australia.”
The introduction of a Kia Optima hybrid would’ve seen it take on the popular fleet choice Toyota Camry hybrid, which has remained relatively unchallenged in the segment.
In 2014 only 3594 hybrid vehicles were sold to private buyers in Australia, of which 545 were SUVs. The non-private sector, however, accounted for 7705 hybrid sales, of which just 20 were SUVs. Toyota and Lexus’ hybrid lineup accounted for the majority of those sales.
Compared to the number of vehicles sold in total for the year (1,113,224) hybrid cars made up just 1.01 percent of the market, making it basically unfeasible for the likes of Kia to introduce new hybrid models to the market.
Even so, Kia Australia is keeping the door every so slightly open, in case the opportunity comes up via other means. That’s likely to be when the locally produced Toyota Camry hybrid ceases production.
“So it hasn’t been dumped, but it’s certainly back to school to have another look at how you might be able to do it.”
The all-new Kia Optima is being officially unveiled at tomorrow’s New York auto show.