Hyundai and Kia need to start making outlandish promises if the automakers hope to generate the kind of press once (and maybe still) enjoyed by a certain American electric carmaker. Instead, Hyundai Motor Group quietly putters along the road to electrification, issuing well-established timelines for its vehicle introductions, then following through.
There’s so little drama, it’s painful.
Ahead of a global debut at September’s Paris Motor Show, Kia launched its newest green vehicle at the 5th International Electric Vehicle Expo in Jeju, Korea — a practical EV made for practical, not all that wealthy people.
We’ve already seen the unveiling of the Hyundai Kona Electric, and the Kia Niro EV follows pretty much the same path. The jury’s out on whether the front-drive-only Niro deserves the “crossover” moniker, so we’ll just call it a tall wagon. It looks like there’ll be plenty of sharing between the two.
Hyundai promises roughly 250 miles of real-world driving range from its upcoming Kona EV, and Kia Motors claims 380 kilometers for the Niro EV. (Both contain a 64 kWh battery pack.) That translates into 236 miles on the WLTP cycle, a measurement that’s more accurate than Europe’s NEDC cycle, but usually slightly above EPA figures. Suffice it to say the Niro EV’s range will be competitive with the likes of the Chevrolet Bolt when it appears in showrooms.
A smaller available battery, good for 150 miles of range, isn’t likely to make its way here.
While Kia didn’t list power output, the Kona makes do with an electric motor generating 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque. There seems to be no reason why the two vehicles wouldn’t share the same motor.
The obvious difference between the Niro EV and its hybrid and plug-in hybrid siblings is a paved-over grille — a feature seem on other EVs, including the Kia Soul EV — and the addition of “arrowhead” LED running lamps mounted along the inner edge of the side scoops. Those vents, plus the broader lower air intake, come accented in thin teal bands. Given that blue and green accents are commonplace on electrified models, teal seems like a natural extension of that trend.
Kia’s Niro EV aims to be the affordable answer to pricer “status” EVs like the Tesla Model X. Pricing, like that of the Kona Electric, remains a mystery, though a base Niro hybrid starts at $23,340 before destination. Expect an MSRP around the mid-30k mark.
So, when can ecologically sensitive families bike to the showroom in search of a Niro EV? In Korea, that moment comes in the second half of 2018, but Kia claims introductions in other markets will occur “in due course.” Stay tuned.
[Images: Kia Motors]