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Why is Kia Burying the Fact that the Niro is a Hybrid?

Feb 03, 2017





Check out the marketing campaign for the new Kia Niro crossover and the term ‘hybrid’ is conspicuously absent.

“We call this the Kia Niro,” as one new TV spot goes, “but that’s only because ‘breakthrough, game-changing crossover that gets over 40 miles per gallon combined and is really fun to drive’ just wouldn’t fit on the back.”

And they’re all like that. It’s an unconventional — and, frankly, somewhat odd — approach to market the brand’s first standalone hybrid vehicle as anything but. So why publicly disregard what’s arguably the crossover’s greatest selling feature? After all, the Niro was recently named a Guinness World Record holder for lowest fuel consumption by a hybrid vehicle — a direct result of its combination gas-electric powertrain.

“We could go down that path,” Steve Carter, Kia’s marketing director in Canada, said of promoting the Niro as a hybrid, “but we’ve chosen to go in another direction. If you look at where customer interests are going, they’re certainly moving out of the car segments and into the crossover segments, and in particular compacts and subcompacts.”

But what does that have to do with staying mum on the Niro’s mildly electrified powertrain? It’s not as if the automaker is scared to cop to the electrons coursing through the crossover — “we’re not afraid to say it’s a hybrid,” Carter said — or simply pass its impressive fuel economy off as black magic. Rather, it has everything to do with the avoiding the negative connotations associated with hybrids in a market that’s still averse to them.

Perennially sluggish sales would suggest the average buyer still doesn’t seem to trust the idea of electrification of their car, however mildly. And this despite hybrids existing in their current form for two decades. Not helping matters are current gas prices, which remain low enough to keep fuel economy low on the shopping list for most buyers.

“We think that we don’t have to play up the hybrid characteristics, because if you look at fuel economy for a (crossover) buyer it’s not No. 1 on the list,” Carter said. “People are looking for value for money, reliability and dependability, styling, and storage capacity — and then there’s fuel economy.”

When it comes to those first four factors — value, reliability, styling and space — Kia seems to have it figured out. The Niro has been priced strategically, coming in at just $22,890 ($24,995 in Canada) to undercut the Toyota Prius sedan by a hefty margin. It also offers the larger interior dimensions of a crossover, and is sewn up in an attractive package. And while it’s still too early to judge the Niro’s reliability, its chances of passing that test are higher now than ever before after Kia topped J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study less than a year ago. Oh, and it just so happens to achieve a combined consumption of as much as 50 miles per gallon (4.7 L/100 km).

“If you’re looking at a (Toyota) Prius you’re looking for great fuel economy and an environmentally friendly vehicle,” Carter said. “For us, we think we can deliver on (that) but you can get all the other things you’re looking for if you’re looking for a subcompact crossover.”

Kia Canada’s corporate communications manager, John Adzija, echoed that sentiment, and said the Niro should appeal to a wide range of customers, with the impressive fuel economy acting as the icing on the cake.

“The hybrid is a bonus,” he said. “It’s not something we’re scared of, but we’re not focusing on it. It’s fun, it’s versatile and, by the way, it gets great fuel economy and it happens to be a hybrid.”


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Kia Niro EV Sales to Start

Kia Niro EV Sales to Start in the US Early Next Year

Jul 20, 2018




The Kia Niro EV will go on sale in the United States in early 2019, the Korean automaker has announced.

The fully electric, front-wheel drive crossover has a 64 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 201 hp electric motor, which provide an estimated driving range of 239-miles, or 385 kilometers. Using the available 100 kW fast-charger, the battery pack will charge from flat to 80% capacity in around 54 minutes. A smaller 39.2 kWh battery pack is also offered, which has a max driving range of 153 miles or 246 kilometers. Pricing has not yet been announced, but you can expect the long-range version to come in at under $40,000 USD.

Inside, the Niro EV also benefits from a 7.0-inch touchscreen with some EV-specific features installed. The operating system allows users to locate nearby charging points and easily monitor the battery pack’s remaining range and charge level. A 7.0-inch LCD driver’s display, which is also unique to the Niro EV, also allows the driver to easily check up on the driving range and other EV powertrain information while on-the-move. Other interior features include a wireless smartphone charger and a light on the dashboard that changes color when the vehicle is charging or fully charged when plugged in.

The Niro EV is available to purchase in South Korea now. European sales will commence in Q4 of this year, with the vehicle arriving in the US in early 2019.


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Discussion Starter #3
Wife saw one of these NOT A NITRO SUVs today on the street and says she really liked the looks of the tail lamps and at first thought it said Nitro on the back. Too bad it could not have been a Nitro since she said it really looked sharp!


 
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