The quirky Kia Niro crossover is a niche hybrid and electric offering in Australia – and with new electrified products in the pipeline for the Korean brand’s local range, its days could be numbered.
Kia Australia has confirmed 2024 will see the introduction of the Sportage Hybrid (HEV) as well as the all-new EV5 electric SUV. Despite both being larger than the Niro, they’re expected to play at a similar price point to the HEV and EV versions of the boxy crossover.
Asked about the Niro’s long-term future Down Under, Kia Australia’s general manager for product planning, Roland Rivero, said ongoing market demand will dictate any vehicle’s importance and relevance.
“Niro remains an important global product, particularly for Western Europe,” Mr Rivero told CarExpert at the Australian launch for the all-new Kia EV9, “for Australia however, we need to continuously evaluate the role of any vehicle line.”
“Post the launch of Sportage HEV and EV5, we will monitor the Niro’s coexistence within the Kia model range and decide accordingly.”
The Kia Niro has typically been a niche seller for the otherwise volume-focused Korean brand, with the nameplate returning 1517 registrations thus far in 2023 (to October 31).
Some of this is due to constrained supply caused by huge demand for the crossover in the South Korean market, as well as Western Europe.
Kia has previously indicated monthly allocation of the Niro sits around the 100-150-unit mark across HEV and EV. Back in February, now-CEO Damien Meredith said Niro EV supply in particular is capped around 50 units monthly “if the demand is there”.
By comparison, the similarly-sized Seltos has returned 8883 registrations year to date, and is in such high demand for select variants that wait times have blown out to 8-12 months.
The MY24 Kia Niro currently starts from $44,930 before on-road costs for the base HEV S, climbing to $72,360 plus on-roads for the EV GT-Line flagship.
Mr Rivero has indicated the Sportage HEV will be offered in two trim levels when it arrives in early 2024, based on the existing SX and GT-Line versions. Expect a Sportage SX HEV to play in the mid- to high-$40,000 bracket (where the Niro HEV sits), and the GT-Line to sit in the mid- to high-$50,000.
Keep in mind the Sportage gets a more powerful 169kW/350Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid drivetrain, whereas the Niro HEV only manages 103kW/265Nm from its non-turbo 1.6L HEV system.
The EV5, meanwhile, is expected to be more affordable than the current Niro EV thanks to its Chinese production and more global focus. Given the EV6 starts at just over $70,000, the EV5 needs to start in the $60,000 bracket to make sense, and the current Niro EV S is priced from $66,950.
Underpinned by a version of the Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP scalable electric vehicle architecture, the EV5 is larger than the Niro EV in every dimension, and should offer longer range and shorter charging times. Plus, it will feature a BYD-sourced lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery, which should offer superior longevity compared to li-ion units.
Further details will be confirmed closer to the EV5’s local introduction sometime in 2024.
Stay tuned for all the latest, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
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