Kia to join the EV mar­ket with Niro

Hauraki Herald - - MOTORING - ROB MAETZIG

Kia is poised to be­come the next ma­jor car com­pany to join the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion game with the launch of hy­brid and plug-in hy­brid ver­sions of a small SUV called Niro.

Kia Mo­tors New Zealand has just an­nounced that the model will go on sale here dur­ing the open­ing quar­ter of next year. No prices have been set­tled for the new ve­hi­cle.

The an­nounce­ment re­sult from a 10-month eval­u­a­tion dur­ing which the Niro has done the rounds of se­lected con­sumers and mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists in an ef­fort to build a busi­ness case to al­low the ve­hi­cle to be sold here.

The Korean-built Niro was pri­mar­ily in­tended for the Euro­pean mar­ket, and spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion was re­quired from Kia to al­low it to be im­ported to New Zealand for pub­lic sale. Kia claims the Niro is the first ded­i­cated hy­brid SUV pro­duced any­where in the world, built espe­cially to run on the com­bined power of a petrol en­gine and an elec­tric mo­tor.

The hy­brid ver­sion’s of­fi­cial com­bined fuel econ­omy is 3.8 L/100km. This was put to the test in Amer­ica when a Niro was driven across the USA, achiev­ing 3.69 L/100km which was word record low fuel con­sump­tion for a hy­brid car.

The plug-in hy­brid ver­sion can do even bet­ter, thanks to its larger bat­tery pack and big­ger elec­tric mo­tor which al­lows it to travel dis­tances un­der elec­tric power alone. Fac­tory fig­ures for the Niro PHEV sug­gest 1.3 L/100km can be achieved on mixed use and reg­u­lar charg­ing of the bat­tery.

‘‘The Niro Plug-in is not just a fuel-ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cle, but it’s a great SUV as well and we are ex­cited to be able to bring it to New Zealand and add it into our very pop­u­lar SUV range,’’ says Kia Mo­tors NZ gen­eral man­ager Todd McDon­ald.

The Niro hy­brid is pow­ered by a 1.6-litre petrol en­gine in con­junc­tion with an elec­tric drive unit. With the lithium-ion bat­tery lo­cated un­der the rear seat, it cre­ates a flat cargo floor when the rear seats are folded.

The new Plug-in ver­sion of the Niro, which has only re­cently been re­leased to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, has a larger bat­tery pack and can travel up to 40 kilo­me­tres on bat­tery power alone, without the as­sis­tance of its petrol en­gine.

The Kia Niro, soon to be launched in New Zealand in hy­brid and plug-in hy­brid forms.

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