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Kia mulls faster Stinger, motorsport and police fleets

On duty: Kia’s Stinger has already been tested by NSW Police and the company is hopeful it will be taken up by other police organisations.

Stinger racing and police car decisions to be made by Kia before 2019

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Kia logo25 Sep 2017

By DANIEL DeGASPERI

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) will decide before 2019 whether it will enter the Stinger in production car racing, while at the same time pursuing local police vehicle contracts and preparing for the arrival of a high-performance version, all as part of the company’s growth projection for the model.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Stinger in Canberra last week, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith said that for the next two years the large car will be supply-constrained and private buyers will make up 90 per cent of total local sales, but by 2019 fresh opportunities should arise.

As KMAu aims to double volume in the final three years of the Stinger’s five-year lifecycle – the company hopes to move from an initial 3000 annual units to an eventual 6000 sales – government and fleet sales have been placed on the agenda, as well as motorsport activities to bolster awareness of the new model.

“We’ve talked to everyone regarding motorsport, and we haven’t made a decision,” Mr Meredith said.

“If we did get involved with it we would probably make that decision in the latter part of next year, but there’s a lot of bridges to cross before we get to that decision.

“We’re inexperienced in that area, firstly. Secondly there is a huge commitment to it not only financially but also emotionally. So there is a lot of things that we have to go through as an organisation before we make that decision.”

Mr Meredith ruled out participation in Australia’s more famous native racing series, the Supercars Championship, which has most recently seen Ford and Volvo withdraw support and has left only Holden and Nissan backing the series.

Asked whether six-hour or 12-hour production car racing appealed to KMAu, however, Mr Meredith confirmed: “All the discussions we’ve had have been about production car racing.”

A late-2018 decision by KMAu on whether or not to race the Stinger would also, Mr Meredith said, align with when national and state police departments would be most interested in the South Korean performance offering due to what he described as department “cycles”.

Various police departments still have Ford Falcons on fleet, despite production finishing this time last year, meaning there is still the opportunity to use locally made Holden Commodores and Toyota Camrys for at least the next 18 months.

“It wouldn't be until 2019 to 2020 for them (police) to start getting orders for those cars (Stingers),” Mr Meredith said.

“Specifically for highway patrol (but) if it’s for general duties it’s a little bit different.

“We have been giving the vehicle to every police department in Australia that wants it. If we signed up every police department in Australia, I think we’d be trying very, very hard to get those cars as soon as possible.”

Victoria Police this week signed up a version of BMW’s 530d sedan for highway patrol duties, however KMAu general manager of product planning Roland Rivero confirmed that the south-eastern state had shown interest for the Stinger to perform in a “highway patrol and general duty” capacity.

Mr Rivero further revealed that “New South Wales have done extensive testing” and he added that “we passed those tests”. New South Wales police are known to have among the most rigorous testing procedures in the country, with braking and cooling tests last year tripping up a stock Ford Mustang GT.

Queensland Police, which purchased several Hyundai Sonatas for general duty capacity last year, requested only the 182kW/353Nm 2.0-litre turbo Stinger.

“(They) wanted to sign it up right now, they wanted to beat every other state to it,” Mr Rivero added.

“The eastern states, (in particular) the eastern coast, there is a lot of interest.”

While the 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6-engined Stinger’s 272kW/510Nm outputs are about in line with the current highway patrol staple’s 304kW/570Nm 6.2-litre V8-powered Commodore, the five-year growth plan for the Stinger will not be limited to Australian motorsport and fleet expansion.

Hyundai Motor Company executive vice president and head of vehicle test and high performance development Albert Biermann may have been most recently noted for creating Hyundai’s i30 N hot hatchback, but as part of his role the former BMW M Division chief engineer will also oversee future Kia sportscar development – and he has his eye on the Stinger, according to local executives.

“Albert Biermann himself has made no secret, he’s been quoted as saying he will be looking at a higher performance (Stinger) that he will strictly oversee and we won’t get a chance to touch,” Mr Rivero said.

“The timing of that is unknown, but he has made mention of that, and with a five-year life span of the Stinger – watch this space.”

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