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Paris show: Kia e-Niro to go 485km

That’s better: Kia’s e-Niro has closed the electric-vehicle practicality gap on conventional cars, smoothing the way for its adoption by Kia in Australia.

Kia e-Niro goes a long way towards a slot in Australian showrooms

Kia logo19 Sep 2018

A BETTER-than-anticipated 485km driving range and a speedy charging capability are likely to open the door to Australia for Kia’s first all-electric production vehicle, the e-Niro, which will be unveiled in its European guise at next month’s Paris motor show.
 
Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) executives are on the record as saying that while they were committed to an electric vehicle strategy, they would not consider adding an EV to the local line-up unless the driving range was suitable for Australia’s daunting distances and that charging times were at practical levels.
 
Now, Kia has disclosed that the top-of-the-range version of its upcoming battery powered e-Niro will not only smash out 485km in highway driving but also up to 615km in stop-start urban driving where regenerative braking comes into play.
 
That flagship variant will be powered by a 64kWh lithium-polymer battery that can be charged to 80 per cent in 54 minutes on a 100kW fast charger.
 
That battery will power a front-mounted electric motor turning out 150kW of power and 395Nm of torque via the front wheels, that is said to be sufficient to propel the e-Niro from zero to 100km/h in 7.8 seconds.
 
These performance levels put the e-Niro well within the practical motoring parameters demanded by Kia Australia which now can be expected to rubber stamp the model for Australia.
 
If that happens as anticipated, the e-Niro – a small crossover vehicle – could appear in Australian showrooms as early as the second half of next year, trailing rivals such as the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq, but beating some fancied mainstream rivals such as Volkswagen’s ID which will not make it Down Under until 2021.
 
The all-electric version of Niro joins hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants sold in other markets but not in Australia where KMAu has declared its intention to go straight for an EV when a suitable vehicles comes on stream.
 
Apart from the 64kWh flagship, the e-Niro will get a more affordable entry version with a smaller 39.2kWh battery, 100kW/395Nm motor for a 9.8-second 0-100km/h time and a 312km driving range.
 
Although other details are in short supply ahead of the Paris reveal, Kia promises the e-Niro will come with a number of technologies to help the driver extend range. These include coasting guide control and predictive energy control, both of which use sat-nav information to account for upcoming corners and topographic changes to suggest when the driver should coast to harvest or save energy.
 
The advanced technology in the e-Niro could make it one of Kia’s more expensive models in Australia where – unlike other markets – no government incentives are offered by zero-emissions vehicles.
 
However, it could also be one of the cheaper EVs on offer, way below European electric vehicles and maybe cheaper than Nissan’s new-generation Leaf that is expected to command a sticker price of about $50,000 when it finally arrives later this year.
 
Kia’s sister company, Hyundai, also has the Ioniq EV waiting in the wings for an Australian launch alongside the Ioniq Hybrid which is now in fleet trials.

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