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Kia's Optima Hybrid in the frame for Australia

Green power: The facelifted Kia Optima Hybrid was unveiled at this year's Chicago motor show, alongside an electrified version of its Soul.

Petrol-electric Kia Optima back on the agenda for local launch in current-gen guise

Kia logo9 Jul 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has confirmed that the petrol-electric Optima Hybrid is still a likely starter for the local market within five years.

Speaking with media in Melbourne this week, KMAu's new chief operating officer Damien Meredith said the Optima Hybrid was still on the cards for Australia, despite being all but ruled out by the South Korean car-maker's local subsidiary last year.

“In our long term plan, the Hybrid Optima is in the plan,” he said. “So whether it comes or not, because lots of things can change, but it is certainly in our plan.” Mr Meredith stopped short of confirming the car for the Australian line-up but said more information would be likely in the coming weeks.

“We have got one of our product planning managers going over to Korea in two weeks to discuss the long-term product plan for Australia,” he said. “It is certainly something we are looking at.” Mr Meredith said it was likely that the petrol-electric drivetrain would arrive in the current-generation Optima, as opposed to the next-gen version which is not due until sometime after 2016.

“We are not talking five-plus years. We are not talking a life-cycle here, we are talking within this life-cycle.” Kia launched its facelifted Optima range in January this year at the Ki-sponsored Australian Open Tennis championship. The new model came with a slight price increase across the range and some minor mechanical tweaks as a result of a local chassis tuning program.

At that time, the company told GoAuto that the hybrid variant was off the agenda, but would not be ruled out for a future-generation vehicle.

In Australia, the only mid-size hybrid is Toyota's locally built Camry Hybrid, but a number of Kia's rivals in the segment offer eco-friendly variants in other markets, including the United States, Europe and Japan.

Honda's Accord, the Ford Mondeo/Fusion twins, sister company Hyundai's Sonata, the Peugeot 508, Holden (Chevrolet) Malibu and the Volkswagen Jetta are all available in some markets with a hybrid powertrain, but not Australia.

Kia Australia has previously confirmed that its other green machine, the Soul EV, which was unveiled at this year's Chicago motor show, is an unlikely starter for the local market.

KMAu general manager of public relations Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto earlier in the year that the lack of infrastructure and low EV sales in Australia kept it off the local agenda.

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