Kia Australia has pitched state police forces in Victoria and Queensland to replace fleets of Australian-made Ford Territory general duties cars with the Sorento.
The Korean brand’s local arm has loaned four Sorento diesels to the forces across both states for evaluation, with the response seen as generally positive.
According to Kia Australia, the feedback so far has suggested fitting bigger brakes and a revised alternator to handle extra unique police requirements — computers, sirens and the like — to get the Sorento up to standard.
If Kia and the police force/s were to seal a deal, the company would be obliged to get the cars suitable for duty before delivery, meaning some internal negotiations with its Korean factory seems necessary.
But should Kia be able to provide general-duties vehicles to replace the Territory — for urban patrols and officer transport, as two examples — it would provide the company a two-fold benefit.
“There’s volume, for a start,” Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith told us last week. “And there’s a bit of cachet in terms reliability, when people see those cars driving around, and know they’re reliable and robust.”
Kia vehicles are understood to be used as police cars in several European countries such as the UK and Slovakia.
Much speculation has been made of late around the future of Australia’s police fleet, given the recent cessation of Ford Territory/Falcon production and the imminent demise of the Australian-made Holden Commodore.
Holden has already spoken positively of its progress in signing up police forces to the next-generation European-made Commodore for both general duties and highway patrol, as well as the high-riding crossover wagon derivative, which would provide stiff competition to the Sorento.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Police Service for example has already committed to replacing its fleet of six-cylinder vehicles (around 234 vehicles) with the Hyundai Sonata, in addition to placing the Sonata Turbo forward as consideration for its higher-performance fleet, according to police minister, Bill Byrne.
“The QPS has now approved the Hyundai Sonata four-cylinder vehicle as a replacement for the current fleet of six-cylinder vehicles,” Byrne said recently.
While the likes of Audi and Mercedes-Benz are happy to loan high-performance S/RS and AMG models to police forces – for promotional work – both brands have said they won’t import low-specification versions to cater for police needs. Even then, prices wouldn’t be low enough to consider it a viable option for taxpayer dollars.