The Kia Niro EV is one of the bestselling EVs in the world, and the all-new 2023 Niro EV is expected to be even better with the fresh new body that's inspired by a show car and a beautiful interior borrowed from the EV6. However, the beauty may only be skin deep.
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Kia Niro is one of the best-selling eco-friendly cars in the world and offers a full range of electrified versions, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure battery-electric. In Europe, Niro ranks as the top seller in just about every country. In particular, the EV version also known as e-Niro leads in its category, having sold more than 145,000 units globally, since its introduction in 2018 and still remains to be a strong seller even despite the fact that the all-new next-generation model is already launched. While most of the world will be waiting a long time for the all-new model to arrive, there is a piece of good news from Korea that would pique the interest of many people who are still looking for an EV that offers great value, with quality and reliability to boot.
We will proceed to explore Kia’s plan to make use of the excellent first-generation Niro to open up a whole new possibility not only in the commercial sector but for personal use as well.
Availability of the new Niro Plus is not limited to the Taxi operators or car-hailing service providers, but also to the general public, which would make it a great option in this day in age where good EVs are hard to come by.
In the recent investor day presentation, the self-proclaimed "sustainable mobility solutions provider”. Kia expressed its eager intention of entering into the PBV or Purpose Built Vehicles business. Kia says that a dedicated lineup of PBVs will be introduced in 2025, built on the EV platform known as e-S that’s specifically developed for commercial vehicle applications, and the first dedicated model is to be a midsize vehicle "with inherent scalability", and will help to achieve its target of becoming a market leader in the PBV segment by 2030. Until then, Kia is launching the new Niro Plus to serve as its first foray into the PBV segment.
Developed as a cheap solution to fulfill the demand for affordable electric taxis and car-hailing service cars, starting with the domestic Korean market, as a huge incentive exists at each level of the municipal and provincial government to proliferate the usage of EVs as public transportation, the Niro Plus is essentially a stretched version of the original Niro with some modifications, especially the interior and the connectivity features to accommodate its intended use. However, the availability of the new Niro Plus is not limited to the Taxi operators or car-hailing service providers, but also to the general public, which would make it a great option in this day in age where good EVs are hard to come by. In fact, it may even be a better buy than the all-new Kia Niro EV, which is about to be released, and here are the reasons why.
The first-generation Niro undergoes transformation to become even larger inside than the all-new Niro while maintaining the old price. (For More Info: https://youtu.be/3qdwq_MKs8k)
The first is its price advantage. The all-new Niro’s official price has not been released, however, judging from the price increase in Korea which saw an increase of up to 10% versus the outgoing model, it’s certain that the all-new model will see a similar increase in the international markets as well. This means the current Niro EV that has a starting price of $40,000 could see an increase of up to a whopping $4,000 when the 2023 Niro arrives in the Summer of this year. However, it’s reported that the Niro Plus will be sold at the price very similar to the current Niro, which would continue to represent one of the best values in the market, as the all-new Niro would struggle to find clear price delineation from the EV6 that’s bigger and has better charging technology, but with the starting price of only $40,900, albeit with smaller battery with a bit shorter range.
This brings to the second reason why Niro Plus may be a better choice. While going up in the price, the all-new Niro still utilizes the same technology as the outgoing model. For example, the second-generation Niro EV still uses practically the same battery as the previous model with 64.8 kWh capacity, an improvement of only 0.8 kWh, that now offers 253 miles or 407 km in the range, from the previous 239 miles or 385 km. However, this extended range comes at the cost of the power output of the front wheel driving electric motor, as the new torque figure is now reduced to 188 pound-feet from the previous version’s beefy 291 pound-feet. The horsepower does remain at 201, to offer 0 to 60 mph at 7.5 seconds, which is slower than the current Niro that can do the same run in 6.2 seconds. For comparison, the base EV6 rear-wheel-drive standard range with a 58 kWh battery, offers 168 hp with 258 pound-feet of torque, achieving 0 to 60 mph in about 8 seconds, and 232 miles or 373 km in range.
The New Niro Plus keeps its cost low by maintaining most of the original Niro including the outstanding power electric system and the large 64 kWh battery (For More info: https://youtu.be/3qdwq_MKs8k)
However, the EV6 rides on the E-GMP dedicated EV platform that features the state of the art 800-volt charging system, that offers a blazingly fast charge time of just 18 minutes 10 to 80%, compared to the 400-volt derivative Niro EV with the new claimed speed of 45 minutes, which is a tad faster than the outgoing Niro’s 54 minutes, but the difference felt in day to day use may be negligible.
What does affect the day-to-day usability of EVs might be the space that they offer, which is the 3rd reason to choose the Niro Plus over the all-new Niro. The upcoming Niro did increase in size from the outgoing model by growing in all directions. The newest Niro now measures 4,420mm or 174.0 inches long, 1,825 mm or 71.6 inches wide, and 1,545mm or 60.8 inches tall, which is 65mm or 2.6 inches longer, and 20mm or 0.8 inches wider than before. The wheelbase also grows by 20mm and now measures 2,720mm or 107.1 inches, affording more interior space.
The Niro Plus offers more interior space than not only the original Niro but the all-new Niro (For More Info: https://youtu.be/3qdwq_MKs8k)
However, not to be outdone, the Niro Plus is also stretched, heightened, and modified to offer more space and versatility than the normal 1st generation Niro, and even the all-new Niro. The vehicle has been stretched by 10mm or 0.4 inches, and the wheelbase is the same but the readjustment in the rear seat placement has increased the rear legroom to 942mm or 37 inches, which is an increase of 28mm or 1.1 inches versus the normal model, compared to only 20mm or 0.8 inches increase obtained by the all-new Niro.
The most obvious change to the Niro Plus is the taller roof, and its height has increased by 80 mm or 3.1 inches, for added headroom of 50 mm or full 2 inches for front passengers, and 64 mm or 2.5 inches for rear passengers. Furthermore, to maximize the interior space beyond the gains obtained by making the body bigger, the Niro Plus has thinner seats, as well as a slimmer interior door panel.
The interior is mostly the same except for the new "All-In-One" infotainment system that integrates features related to ride-hailing and taxi operations. (For More Info: https://youtu.be/3qdwq_MKs8k)
Inside, the rest of the interior is largely unchanged but to serve its purpose as a taxi or hailing car, there are grab handles mounted on the B-pillars to facilitate access, while door panel reflectors have been installed for added passenger safety.
Also, the front passenger seat has been modified to include the electric reclining and slide feature that can be controlled by the driver, to allow maximum space for the rear passenger. Furthermore, the headrest has been lowered by 43 mm or 1.7 inches to provide better forward visibility to the rear passengers.
The biggest highlight of the interior is the new infotainment system. Although it does not offer the all-new Niro’s beautiful dual 10.25-inch panoramic LCDs, the Niro Plus also offers a 10.25-inch screen that’s known as the all-in-one display, that integrates a digital tachograph, navigation, as well as a taximeter, a required tool of the trade if you opt for the taxi version. There is also the owner-operator version that will feature the camping option to take advantage of the larger interior space.
Finally, for the styling, aside from the distinguishing taller roof design, the exterior modification includes the newly designed daytime running light, revised EV grille, and skid plate. It’s obviously not going to be as provocative as the show car-based new Niro’s exterior, but the taller roof now offers that rugged SUV look that stands out and would be a plus, and the 4th reason to purchase the Niro Plus, if you are looking for a more conservative-looking car.
The new Niro Plus comes in the Taxi version (left) and the Owner version (right). (For More Info: https://youtu.be/3qdwq_MKs8k)
So in summary, if you are looking for an EV that’s affordable, efficient, and reliable, proven by its long-standing as one of the bestsellers, as well as being ranked number 1 In J.D. Power EV Ownership Study among mass-market electric cars 2 years in a row, the Niro Plus would present a strong argument and the 5th reason to purchase it over the all-new car.
The 6th and the final reason, and perhaps the most important reason, maybe its availability. Unlike the all-new Niro, which is expected to be affected by the delivery delay that most of the late models such as the EV6 and the Sportage are suffering from, with the expected waiting of up to 1 year, the Niro Plus, which is built on the same assembly line as the readily available current Niro EV, would have little supply issues, relatively speaking.
After the preorder and the commencement of the production next month in Korea, the Niro Plus is expected to be available globally as well, including in Europe, North America, and Australia. As versatile as the new Niro Plus, with its ability to be used in multiple ways, from being a business car, a daily driver, as well as a recreational vehicle with the innovative camping option, it may become another bestseller for Kia.
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