Kia to add Plug-In Hybrid Ceed and Sportage in 2019

Kia is planning to greatly expand its portfolio of electrified models with a new Ceed estate, a new Soul EV and, longer-term, a Sportage plug-in and a large fuel-cell SUV.

The Ceed plug-in will use the same powertrain as the Niro PHEV and is tipped to go on sale “in the second half of 2019”. With a 139bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a 59kW electric motor and 8.4kWh battery pack, a Ceed estate with the same powertrain should match, or even beat, the Niro’s 29g/km of CO2 and 217mpg of the outgoing NEDC economy standard.

“We are going to introduce it for the wagon, and then decide if it makes sense on other body-types,” says Kia Europe’s marketing chief Artur Martins.

Models that are not confirmed but could receive plug-in powertrains in the future include the Sportage and Sorento, while a new generation of Optima PHEV is also on the cards.

“We are going to need more electrification on other products in the future. We must get to a mix of around 25-30% electrified models to hit the CO2 targets,” added Martins.

Production will be localised at Kia’s Slovakia plant, the first plug-in it will build in Europe.

At November’s LA show, Kia will reveal a new Soul EV, destined for UK launch in spring next year as the sole model in a new Soul range.

The Soul BEV’s powerpack will mirror the e-Niro’s with a choice of either a 34 or 60kWhr battery, the latter promising a range of 300 miles. It will boost Kia’s range of BEVs to two models – alongside Tesla one of very few car-makers with multiple BEVs in its range.

According to Kia Europe COO Emilio Herrara demand for the e-Niro is expected to hit 20k units/yr by 2019/2020.

Will it be third time lucky for Kia’s Europe-only hatchback – or are established rivals from Ford, VW, Seat and Honda still the better buy?

More radically, Kia is planning a fuel-cell model as a sister-vehicle to Hyundai’s £60k Nexo, which goes on sale early next year. The Sorento SUV, whose higher price can justify the cost of the fuel cell power pack, is highly likely to be the beneficiary of a hydrogen-powered option. Kia already has a fuel cell car on sale in Korea, but in a model not sold in Europe.

“We are looking at a fuel cell, in the future, in a bigger car,” says Martins, “but it depends a little bit on how the European market goes. It works better on a bigger car because the customer is prepared to pay more on a bigger car.”