KIA Australia is taking its first steps toward a zero emissions future with the e-Niro electric SUV shaping up for a local launch in late 2019.
Making its European debut at the Paris motor show today, the e-Niro crossover moves Kia’s EV game on in a big way, with a WLTP combined range of 485km, and up to 615km of urban mileage possible from a single charge of its 64kWh long-range battery, according to Kia.
As with the electric Hyundai Kona, a second version with a smaller 39kWh battery is also planned for Europe, with a range of 312km, and all components are covered by Kia’s seven-year warranty.
Planning is well underway to bring the Korean made e-Niro to Australia. Though it is not yet locked in, Kia’s local communications manager Kevin Hepworth says he “would put money on it” happening.
“If it goes through – and the odds are that it will – by the time we get the dealerships fully trained up it would be towards the end of next year.”
“With a 485-or-so-kilometre range, you can do Sydney to Melbourne, stop for lunch, recharge it and get to Melbourne on that charge.”
Using a 100kW fast charger, a 20-to-80-percent fill takes 42 minutes. Those volts then feed into a single electric motor producing 150kW and 395Nm in the 64kWh version. Zero to 100km/h takes 7.8sec.
But what will it cost? The price premium of EVs is unlikely to go away before the e-Niro’s arrival, and Hepworth warned it will cost more to buy than an equivalent, combustion-powered mid-size SUV.
“It’s going to be more expensive. There’s not an EV on the road that isn’t. But the difference is [e-Niro] will have probably the best range of any EV – certainly SUV type vehicle – in Australia.
“It won’t be disproportionately expensive, it has to be affordable.”
Other key features of the e-Niro include independent rear suspension, advanced regenerative braking technology, battery heating for cold climates, LED lighting inside and out, luxury interior appointments including a heated steering wheel, and a 451-litre cargo area.
Extensive digital displays are part of the e-Niro’s distinctive interior treatment, packaged within a futuristic design highlighted by bright blue trim.
The e-Niro is Kia’s all-electric follow-up to the Soul EV, which was launched in 2014 but “never considered” for Oz due to the Soul’s relative lack of popularity Down Under.
Electrification has been a long time coming for Kia Australia, with COO Damien Meredith choosing to skip half measures and wait for an appropriate fully electric product to become available.
“Damien made a conscious decision that we weren’t going to get engaged in hybrids and go straight to EVs when the right one came along,” said Hepworth. “And that was a pure brand image marketing decision.”
“We’ll end up with more than one EV, but we’ll see how the first one goes.”