Without any fanfare, Kia recently began delivering its all-new Niro EV to customers in the U.S.
- The Kia Niro EV has finally hit dealerships and is ready for customers
- The EV is rated at 239 miles per charge, but its platform-mate Hyundai Kona is rated at 258 miles
- The Niro is available in a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric models
- It starts at $38,500 and is eligible for the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit
If you’ve not heard of the Niro EV, don’t feel too bad. As underscored by the lack of any media-coverage push surrounding its initial U.S. deliveries, Kia hasn’t gone out of its way to announce its second all-electric model.
As a refresher, the Niro EV is powered by a 64 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The energy from which, when pushed through the onboard electric motor, is good for 201 horsepower and 291 foot-pounds of torque. That means it’s pretty quick.
More importantly, however, thanks to its impressive onboard energy reserves and slick body lines, the Niro EV has been rated by the environmental protection agency (EPA) to achieve 239 miles per charge. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 1 mile per charge further than the Chevrolet Bolt EV — the first long-range, entry-level EV.
Niro EV can receive 100 miles of charge in just 30 minutes and 80% recharge in 75 minutes, thanks to its Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charge setup, which is standard equipment for the $38,500 base sticker price.
Intriguingly, Kia’s Niro EV has a sister vehicle: Hyundai’s Kona EV. The Kona has been rated to achieve 258 miles per charge — 19 miles further per charge than the Niro. What’s more, the Kona EV starts at $36,950 — $1,550 less than Niro. Of course, the $7,500 federal tax credit is applicable to both models.
Pricing And Competition
For me, what is most interesting about the Kona and Niro are their multiple powertrain options: From hybrid to plug-in hybrid (PHEV) to EV. For $23,490 you can get a Niro hybrid that gets a combined 50 miles per gallon. For $28,500, the Niro PHEV returns 26 miles of pure-electric range before its onboard gasoline engine needs to fire up. Stepping up to the Niro EV, as we discussed, requires an additional $10,000 investment.
Come to think of it, perhaps that’s why Niro EV quietly began delivering to dealers and hit buyers’ hands without any press release from the Korean automaker: It knows it’s not that compelling. Well, at least compared to its fraternal twin, the Kona.
Ignoring the odd price comparison between the two, the laddering of powertrains is a compelling paragon. Although some automakers have shied away from the pattern of stepped electrified powertrain options under one model, and opted for EV-only standalone models alongside traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, I think it could be the way of the future.
As I’ve argued before, if carmakers want to normalize EVs and make them appear as equal alternatives to ICE vehicles, they have to offer pure-electric powertrains in the same model as a gasoline engine. Ford is implementing this with its promised all-electric F-150 truck. Imagine how normal EVs will feel to everyday Americans when they roll into a Ford dealer wanting to by a truck and the salesman asks “Do you want the turbocharged model, V8, or all-electric?”
This is exactly what Kia and Hyundai are doing: building one really compelling model with a bunch of great electrified powertrains. Both brands just now need to match their engineering virtuosity with marketing power. You know, so that the buying public knows the models exist.