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PostHeaderIcon Kia Niro EV

2019 Kia Niro EV

The Kia Niro EV has finally been spotted in the wild for the first time, and it was testing with its slightly smaller cousin, the Hyundai Kona EV. Based on its hybrid twin, the Niro Hybrid, the EV will ride on the same dedicated platform but is expected to deliver somewhere around 200 to 250 miles per charge. Then again, the Hyundai Kona is expected to offer up somewhere around 310 miles with its largest battery option, and both brands will use the same equipment, so the Niro could deliver closer to 300. But we’ll talk more about that a little later. With that said, not a lot has changed from the hybrid version of the Niro, but Kia has made a few changes that we can talk about.

Before we dive too deep into the details, let’s just point out that it’s not likely Kia will disappoint with the Niro EV. The Niro started life as the 2014 Kia KX3, which was already near-production ready. A couple of years passed before we saw the production model, but Kia didn’t disappoint and, if anything, it actually improved on its conceptual design for the Niro. The Niro is still relatively new on the market, making its initial push for the 2017 model year but it has taken the subcompact crossover market by storm. Kia promised us the EV by 2018 and, so far, it looks like Kia is about to hit yet another home run as this EV looks like it’s ready to bring the bacon to the table. Let’s take a good look at it before Kia beats us to the punch.

Kia Niro EV Exterior

  • Revised front fascia
  • Fog lights moved to the flanks
  • Could have a different grille
  • Side profile remains unchanged but could get lighter wheels
  • Rear end will see a revised lower fascia and new badges

2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742858
“The Niro EV won’t change all that much from the hybrid model it is based on”

As is the usual case with cars-turned-electric, the Niro EV won’t change all that much from the hybrid model it is based on. It will, however, take on a few changes and, despite all of the camo and padding, we can already make out a pretty decent idea of what we can expect. First off, the main shell of the car we go on unchanged from the basic hybrid model, as well most of the body panels, including the front fenders, front hood, and rear hatch – aside from different badges, of course. What will change outside, however, is the front fascia and maybe even the rear fascia to a very small extent. As best we can tell, the fog lights will be moved to the sides and site directly below the headlamps, which is completely different compared to the hybrid.

Those corner vents on the hybrid are also left aside for a different look that will include triangular units that are much smaller and feature horizontal louvers. I suspect the air dam will also be smaller as there is little need for cooling outside of the battery packs and a little airflow for the electric motor. The real question is whether or not Kia will do something different with the grille. Since this is an EV, there’s no need for a radiator, and the grille is, therefore, rendered redundant. Kia may elect to carry it over from the hybrid for the purposes of brand identification, or it could offer up a slightly different approach – like a backlit mesh, for instance – while still keeping the same size and shape; again, to preserve brand identity.


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742863
“The side profile and roof will remain untouched in comparison to the standard hybrid model, as will the rear hatch and taillights”

The side profile and roof will remain untouched in comparison to the standard hybrid model, as will the rear hatch and taillights. As I mentioned earlier, the rear fascia may change just a little bit, but for the most part, it will remain the same, evidenced by the stout body lines that we can see on the corners below the taillights. What we can point out is that there are some horizontal louvers in the lower corners of the rear fascia that aren’t present on the hybrid model, and this is where the minor differences lie. With so much camo and padding, there’s no telling what is really going on here, but it can’t be too different, as the same license plate recess in the center of the lower fascia is in place as it should be.

Again, not a lot to separate the EV from the hybrid, but there’s enough to make it known to those who have a keen eye for spotting the little things. Are there any other little differences I missed? If you see anything, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the article. If not, let’s talk a little about the interior.

Kia Niro EV Interior

  • Interior will be near identical
  • Will get an all-digital instrument cluster
  • Infotainment display may be revised
  • No need for a gear shifter

2017 Kia Niro - image 665044
Interior from 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid shown here.
“The interior will be nearly indistinguishable from any other non-EV Niro you find on the road”

If you like the interior you see here, then you’ll be happy to know that the EV badging outside and the lithium-ion bits under the metal won’t bring a lot of change to the interior. You can expect the same exact layout – seating for five, comfortable but not-so-supportive seats up front, pleasant-looking dash, and dual-zone climate control. Truth be told, the interior will be nearly indistinguishable from any other non-EV Niro you find on the road. There should be a few changes, however. First off, all interior lighting is all but guaranteed to be LED in nature – this will help preserve that precious go juice from the battery. To add to this, there will likely be a different shifter as the EV will be void of a typical transmission, and the infotainment system could be up for a change as well. Not necessarily a different look, but there could be different software involved; more specifically, software that is designed to account for various bits of data like state of charge, battery health, etc.

What you can be sure to see is a new instrument cluster ahead of the steering wheel. As is the usual case with all-electric cars, the analog or semi-digital instrument clusters go bye-bye while all-digital units become the only choice. This is to help preserve power as it’s much more efficient to have an all-digital screen than a motor-actuated needle. Plus, there’s no need for a tachometer on an electric car, either. So, the instrument cluster should be home to a few new meters that include a battery meter, state of charge, range indicator, and it may even supplement the navigation system by pointing you to the nearest public charging stations. After all, there’s a big plug next to the grille up front for a reason – this thing doesn’t run on dreams and unicorn farts, that’s for sure.

Kia Niro EV Drivetrain

  • Could be AWD with two or four electric motors
  • With four motors it could torque distribution on demand
  • Could also be front-wheel drive
  • Range will vary from around 150 miles to 310 miles depending on battery size
  • 140 to 200 horsepower can be expected
  • Charging time will fall under six hours for a full charge

2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742865
“The chances are that the Niro EV will be all-wheel drive with two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear”

Unfortunately, what’s lurks below the metal as the main form of motivation has been rather elusive up to this point. We know very little about what’s going on or about what we can expect from the Niro EV, but word has it that it will benefit from Hyundai’s selection of batteries that include 39.2 kWh and 64.2 kWh units, both of which will be offered in the Hyundai Kona EV as well. Hyundai says the larger battery will be good for around 500 km or about 310 miles. We’re guessing that the smaller battery will probably be good for around 130 miles of range, at best.

The chances are that the Niro EV will be all-wheel drive with two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear. It’s possible Kia could go with four smaller motors, one at each wheel, but I really wouldn’t hold my breath for that. Kia could also make the Niro front-wheel-drive only to save weight and battery power, or design it so that its AWD on demand, with power being sent to the rear wheels only when needed. After looking at models like the Hyundai Ioniq EV and the Kia Soul EV, we’re guessing that power output will sit somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 to 140 horsepower. It’s a fairly small vehicle, and it won’t really need a whole lot of grunt. Then again, Kia could up the ante a bit and let it deliver around 200 horsepower, at least giving it the ability to tow small things or carry a full load of cargo in the boot without struggling like a hooker walking into church after a busy Saturday night.
Keep in mind, however, that even the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell boasts just 134 horsepower, so I really wouldn’t hold my breath for much more than that – this thing needs to offer up decent range too.

Kia Niro EV Pricing

Pricing should range from $35,000 to about $43,000


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742866

The Niro Hybrid currently tips the pricing scale at $23,240 for an entry-level model. Meanwhile, the range-topping Touring trim level is currently going for around $31,900. With that in mind, you can expect the EV to start out at no less than $35,000 because, for lack of a better reason, it’s an EV. It’s naturally more expensive to have such a large battery, and it’s possible that there’s an extra motor in there as well. With various trim levels eventually coming to the surface, the Niro EV could command anywhere between $35,000 and $43,000 in range-topping form. Seems like a lot for a subcompact crossover, but it’s an EV, and that’s the way the market trends right now for prices on these things – even the little ones.

Kia Niro EV Competition

At this point, there isn’t really anything on the market for the Niro EV to compete with, so you could even start hoping for Kia to be the first to put its subcompact SUV on the market – it’s certainly coming soon, right? All told, there’s nothing for it to compete with now, but there are a bunch of models on their way, and the Niro EV will find itself fight among some pretty serious models that are all hoping to reign supreme in what will be an epic EV showdown. So let’s take a quick look at all of the upcoming competitors.

Jaguar I-Pace


2019 Jaguar I-Pace - image 722486

The Jaguar I-Pace will likely fall a little a little higher on the pricing scale than the Niro EV since it is a premium vehicle and all, but it should be one of the first compact models to actually hit the market – most likely around the same time as the Niro or 2019 at the latest. It’s got more of a car look to it than the official “crossover” or “SUV” look but to each their own in that regard. It should sit in the same general size niche and should be able to cover about 300 miles on a single charge. Naturally, the materials and fit and finish will probably be a little more upscale, but Kia is slowly becoming a luxury brand itself – think about the Kia Stinger… — so I wouldn’t be so quick to say it won’t be able to hold its own against the Jag.

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.

Mercedes Electric EV – Mercedes EQ


2020 Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV - image 697079

Mercedes’ first electric SUV is expected to debut for the 2020 model year, so Kia will probably beat it out of the gate, but what will be unique about this SUV is that it will be quite powerful in comparison. If the SUV is, indeed, based on the Mercedes EQ Concept, it should have some 400 horsepower on tap and be good for a range of about 300 miles. The Niro EV will keep up in range, no doubt, but that power on the other hand? I’m quite doubtful, but a man can still hope, right? In the end, the Mercedes EQ SUV in production form should come in at around $40,000 in base form which will be a little more expensive than the entry-level Niro EV but still with the realm of competition.

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Mercedes Electric SUV.

Hyundai Kona EV


2018 Hyundai Kona - image 720693

Note: Standard Hyundai Kona pictured here.

It seems a little redundant to mention the Kona EV here considering Hyundai is practically the same company once the two Korean carmakers merged into a single automotive group. Be that as it may, it’s still going to take up a place in the same niche, and that means the Niro EV will have to compete with it, even if profits from both models line the pockets of the same wealthy executive. It will actually be a little smaller than the Niro and as such may even come in a few grand cheaper but it should offer up the same range, power, and typical amenities inside and out. On the plus side, Hyundai’s current design language does have a slightly more attractive front end, so it may be advisable to go with the Kona EV. Plus, the ICE-powered Kona is already hitting dealers in the very near future so it’ll at least have an established following when the EV makes its debut. Pricing should start out around $33,000 and climb to as much as $40,000 at launch.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

Tesla Model Y


2020 Tesla Model Y - image 722132

It’s a shame but I almost wrote up this whole article without thinking about Tesla once, but as I came to the end, I decided I might as well throw it a bone considering it’s having a pretty rough year. The brand has been hit with various lawsuits for harassment, racism, discrimination, etc., and it posted a serious loss for the last quarter. Then you add in the fact that production of the Model 3 has become about as troublesome as trying to get through a dry county in Georgia without getting caught with that booze in your trunk. Either way, at some point Tesla will be debuting a smaller version of the Model X that will aptly be called Model Y, and effectively complete the SEXY lineup. It should fall in line with the Model 3 so expect to see a rather bland interior with a single screen for all pertinent driving information (no instrument cluster, either,) and it will likely be the least-attractive model of any that we’ve discussed in this speculative review. With that Said, the Model Y will likely come in at around $40,000 to $45,000 before tax incentives, which may be something to pay attention to considering President Trump is thinking of taking those away.

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Tesla Model Y.

Conclusion


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742867

So, at this point, the only question you should really have about the Niro EV is when it’s going to hit dealers. Well, unfortunately, I can’t tell you that as it’s still a bit too early. But, when you consider the fact that there isn’t a lot left for Kia to do outside of extensive testing of the drivetrain, it could happen in the very near future. It’s supposed to take shape and make its debut in 2018, so if it happens in the first quarter, we could very well see this thing rolling into dealers, pigtail hanging, by mid-July and go on sale as a 2019 model. This could, as a matter of fact, happen before most of the other competitors make it to market, but we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, that’s all there is to the story, but stay tuned for future updates and let us know what you think about the Niro EV in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • Competition could be tough
    • Could be a little too expensive
    • Competition may have more grunt for the $

Comments are closed.

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