Kia Niro is the model that put Kia on the map as one of the most popular EV brands due to its affordability, strong performance and versatility. However, when the next-generation rolls along, it's expected to be available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid only!
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The Niro has been a success for Kia since its introduction in 2016, largely due to the popularity of the EV version in particular. It’s probably not the most striking-looking vehicle in the world, but it does offer affordable motoring for those seeking a compact SUV with EV capabilities.
The new Niro will be a longer and wider car with an extended wheelbase. Also, drawing from the Tucson and Sportage technology pool is a pair of new powerplants. The new Niro will receive a huge boost in power compared to the current model by adopting Sportage’s hybrid and plug-in hybrid 4-cylinder engines.
While it only recently received a refresh for 2020, an all-new version, codenamed SG2, is well under development, and Kia is promising funky new looks to deal with that pedestrian-look of the current model.
This spy-shot inspired illustrative preview by NY Mammoth clearly shows the inspiration from the concept vehicle, which the new Niro will be based.
The Kia HabaNiro concept debuted at the 2019 New York International Auto Show and the new Niro will adapt the concept’s striking design elements such as the bold front end with its claw-like daylight running lamps, angular C-pillar design, and lower cladding treatment. The HabaNiro concept also offered a glimpse of Kia’s future design direction with butterfly doors, and contrasting red elements wrapped up in an electrified, off-road package. The butterfly doors won't’ make it to the production model but on the topic of offroad, the next Niro will actually receive the concept’s proposed e-A-W-D system, which is a front-wheel-drive-biased all-wheel-drive system that incorporates an electric motor in the rear to propel the rear wheels, in addition to the main powerplant in the front. It’s an application similar to the Hyundai group’s new E-GMP dedicated electrical concept where the front and rear motors each drive separate axels.
However, unlike the upcoming Kia CV (EV6), the all-new next generation Niro will be not be based on the E-GMP electric platform but it will be based on the modified version of the current platform which was based on the Hyundai Ioniq. But as you are all aware, since the Ioniq is breaking out to become a new sub-brand of Hyundai with its E-GMP-based first model IONIQ 5, the Niro now has to fly solo. As the platform-sharing role is handed over to the new upcoming Kia CV dedicated electric vehicle, Niro is now drawing upon Hyundai group’s another latest platform that underpins the new Hyundai Tucson and the upcoming, fifth-generation Sportage. This means the new Niro will be a longer and wider car with an extended wheelbase. Also, drawing from the Tucson and Sportage technology pool is a pair of new powerplants. The new Niro will receive a huge boost in power compared to the current model by adopting Sportage’s hybrid and plug-in hybrid 4-cylinder engines. The hybrid model’s 1.6-liter gasoline engine will be aided by a 44.2-kilowatt electric motor and a 1.49-kilowatt-hour battery pack to pump out a total output of 229 horsepower and 258 lb. ft. of torque. The hybrid is estimated to have a range of over 500 miles.
The plug-in-hybrid model, which uses the same 1.6-liter turbo engine but has a more powerful 66.9-kW electric motor and a larger 13.8-kWh battery-pack to produce a total of 261-hp. The plug-in hybrid models will have an electric range of around 28 miles and a 2-hour recharge time using a Level 2 charger. The fuel economy is expected to be around 70 mpg. Both models are expected to be paired with 6-speed automatic transmission.
So the moment of truth, what is happening to the pure electric version of the Niro that put Kia on the map as a respected EV maker with the accolades such as coming up first in the J.D. Power 2021 EV ownership study? According to a Spanish car news portal, Motor.es' latest report on March 2 as well as other credible sources from Korea, the 2nd generation Kia Niro will no longer be offered as a pure electric vehicle.
The All-New Kia Sportage
That role will be fulfilled by the aforementioned Kia CV, which will be a dedicated EV, as well as the pure-electric version of the upcoming Sportage, which will be called e-Sportage. So, by Niro relinquishing its e-Niro, as it’s known in Europe, or Niro EV nameplate, Kia’s compact crossover electric car strategy will be as follows:
Kia CV, the biggest of the group taking dedicated electric car segment, the middle-sized Kia e-Sportage taking the derivative EV segment, and the smallest next Kia Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid taking the electrified internal combustion engine vehicle segment.
Kia EV6 (Previously Known as CV)
As sad as it is for the loyal e-Niro fans all over the world, this lineup somehow seems to make a lot of sense for Kia that’s determined to become the leading EV and electrified vehicle maker by launching seven dedicated EV’s by 2027, with 11 total EV’s by 2025.
Along with increasing the number of EV’s in its product portfolio, Kia also intends for EV sales to grow to 25 percent of global sales by 2029. The company has sold 100,000 EV’s to date and expects consumer demand for electric vehicles to continue to rise over the next decade. To make the switch easier for customers, Kia is promising to increase EV servicing and charging infrastructure at its dealerships first in Korea, then around the world. The company has announced a partnership with European charging infrastructure company Ionity and is actively searching for infrastructure partners in the United States and China.
Although no longer quite pure electric, the all-new Kia Niro will still offer a host of technology that’s offered on other pure electric vehicles, with a focus on infotainment and connectivity features.
Expect a new digital gauge and infotainment cluster utilizing two separate 12.3-inch LCD screens with the company’s famous blind-view monitors that show adjacent lanes when turn signals are activated. It should also feature adaptive cruise control, an infotainment system that runs Kia’s latest UVO infotainment platform featuring haptic feedback, and cloud-based navigation with real-time maps and information as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
The new Niro also now includes Digital Key, a feature that allows customers to use their smartphones as keys, and "car to home" feature that give drivers the ability to link up their smart home appliances to their vehicle, so they can do things such as turn on their home air conditioner before they return home, from the vehicle.
In terms of the safety and driver-assist features, it will include Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Advanced Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go.
The new Niro will also feature Kia’s latest Safe Exit assist that warns the rear passenger upon approaching rear traffic, and the latest version of Smart Park Park Assist, which you can now remotely control with a remote.
The new Niro is expected to be launched in Q3 of 2021 as a 2022 model. The price is expected to jump quite a bit too as it’s technically moving up in the ranks with a bigger body and more power than the current model.
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