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Kia e-Niro ready to roll in Australia
e-Niro fully electric crossover to precede two more Kia BEV models
17 Oct 2018
KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) says the fully electric e-Niro is all but locked in for a local launch and it will precede two other Kia BEV models that will be added to the line-up down the track.
The e-Niro made its European debut at last month’s Paris motor show, and according to KMAu general manager of media and corporate communications Kevin Hepworth, it could be in Australian showrooms before the end of next year.
“We are pretty confident we will have the e-Niro in by next year,” he said at a media event in Melbourne. “That will be followed, in a managed time scale, by a small passenger vehicle and a larger SUV-style vehicle.”
While Mr Hepworth did not confirm what the two new models would be, he said that like the e-Niro, they would be built on a dedicated electric-vehicle platform and would not share their underpinnings with any of Kia’s internal-combustion models.
The e-Niro is based on its own platform that is not shared with the regular hybrid Niro.
Kia is the first mainstream car-maker to announce plans to launch a fully electric larg SUV in Australia. Premium brands including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have all revealed production-ready or concept versions of mid-to-large electric SUVs.
Mr Hepworth said that it was unclear whether the models would carry existing Kia model names with the ‘e’ prefix, as is the case with the e-Niro, or of they will have unique monikers.
However, he said Kia’s design team told journalists at the Paris show that electric-vehicle platforms opened up new opportunities for automotive design.
Mr Hepworth added that Kia Motors Europe chief designer Gregory Guillaume and Hyundai Motor Group president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer have a policy that EVs should be immediately identifiable.
“People should recognise it as an electric vehicle,” he said. “It doesn’t need to have wings or whatever. But there should be recognition that this is a specific vehicle, and to that purpose it sits on a specific electric-vehicle platform.”
Mr Hepworth would not be drawn on whether the e-Niro would be the most affordable EV offered in Australia when it arrives, but he said it would not be in the circa-$60,000 price bracket that early EVs, such as Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, Holden’s range-extender Volt and the original Nissan Leaf, were in when they launched.
“They will be marketed with the ever-present, unchanging Kia philosophy of great value,” he said.
“It is a fact of life that they will be more expensive than an equivalent petrol vehicle.
“There is no point in putting a product out there that your key market (customers) can’t afford. Early adopters will always pay more for a product. Not because they can, but because they want to have the newest, latest, greatest.
“We are not expecting to sell a lot of them. No one is going to sell a lot of electric vehicles initially.”
Nissan is yet to confirm pricing for its second-generation Leaf that lands in mid-2019, while Hyundai’s first EV, the Ioniq liftback, arrives in December this year and is believed to start from about $45,000.
The cheapest full EV on the market at the moment is Renault’s Zoe light hatch that is priced from $51,990 driveaway for the entry-level Life.
As reported, KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith has stated in the past that the company would skip hybrid and plug-in hybrids in favour of full-electric vehicles.
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