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Kia locks in Niro EV for Australian launch

Kia Niro SUV with EV, hybrid powertrains to launch Down Under in second quarter

8 Jan 2021

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) has confirmed the long-awaited Niro low-emission SUV will launch in Australia in the second quarter of 2021, following a marketing campaign at the Australian Open tennis tournament.


Speaking to local media at the launch of the new-generation Carnival people mover, KMAu product planning general manager Roland Rivero confirmed the Niro will be released later this year, with a range of powertrains to be offered.


When asked about alternative powertrains, Mr Rivero confirmed there would be more on the way following the introduction of the hybrid Sorento large SUV variants in the first quarter.


“At the Sorento launch we announced there were hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants to come – plug-in will be first in this quarter, and later this year we’ll have a hybrid Sorento also joining the fold,” he said.


“On top of that in terms of EV, I’m pleased to announce there will be a fifth SUV joining our range, no surprises it will be the Niro – and we’ll be getting that at its mid-life PE (product enhancement) stage also, and it will be available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid as well as EV, so all three powertrains will be made available to us.”


Mr Rivero added the Australian Open tennis tournament, of which Kia has been the major sponsor for years, would be used to promote the car while also ferrying players and officials.


“We should see them as part of the Vehicles In Kind (player/official transport) fleet for the Australian Open, and we’re readying our dealer network as we speak in terms of training and infrastructure, and in quarter two you should see customers able to order them,” he said.


As mentioned, the Niro will be offered in three different flavours of powertrain – hybrid (the first version of the Niro launched globally in 2017), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and full electric, marking the first EV from Kia to be sold in Australia.


The three-pronged powertrain strategy mirrors that of sibling company Hyundai and its Ioniq sedan range which can also be had with hybrid, PHEV or EV options.


KMAu has not yet indicated whether all three versions would be available from launch, or whether there will be a gradual rollout.


It can be expected the Niro – similar in size to the Seltos small SUV – will have the EV as its most expensive variant.


The parallel hybrid Niro teams a 76kW 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 32kW electric motor and 1.6kWh lithium-ion battery producing a combined 108kW/264Nm, while sipping an average of 4.7L/100km of fuel.


The PHEV uses the same petrol engine as the hybrid, but employs a larger 8.9kWh battery and 45kW/169Nm electric motor, however despite the addition of the stronger motor it has the same combined output as the hybrid.


The main advantage is its all-electric driving range of up to 42km, and its combined fuel consumption which can reach as little as 2.2L/100km.


Finally, the EV employs a 64kWh battery (like the Hyundai Kona) allowing for a considerable 485km of driving range, while producing 150kW/395Nm.


With similar size and specs to the Kona Electric, punters should expect to see the Niro EV priced around the $60,000 mark.


KMAu added that the launch plans for the Niro would not be affected if the Australian Open were to be cancelled or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


More details including local pricing and specification will be revealed closer to the Niro’s launch later in the year.

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