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Kia Niro launching without PHEV, could come if demand spikes

The Niro PHEV won't make it to Australia as part of the launch range, but the company has said it can bring it here if our market wants it.

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The next-generation 2023 Kia Niro range is just weeks away from the Australian market, though just two out of three available powertrain variants will be heading Down Under.

Kia Australia has officially confirmed it decided to drop the Niro Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) due to the Australian market’s low demand for plug-in hybrids, which was reflected in local Niro sales.

The previous-gen Niro’s 2021 yearly sales figure of 742 units was made up of 465 Niro Hybrids, 217 Niro EVs, and just 60 Niro Plug-in Hybrids.

PHEV sales in general continue to flounder here partly due to the lack of European-style incentives and CO2 targets.

To the end of May, Australian sales of plug-in hybrid cars and SUVs tally just 2370 units, against 8527 electric vehicles and 34,650 hybrids.

However, Kia’s local product planning boss Roland Rivero told CarExpert the Niro PHEV could still be offered in its next-generation form in the future should our market demand it.

“The learnings we got from the first generation Niro is that the Australian appetite is for either hybrid or EV,” Mr Rivero said.

“But, that doesn’t mean we didn’t plan for a plug-in hybrid. We homologated the PHEV.”

“So, if the Australian market decided all of a sudden it has a big appetite for PHEVs, we could turn on the tap for sure,” Mr Rivero added.

Kia’s local product boss indicated the Australian division expects between 100 and 150 Niro units per month split across HEV and EV powertrain variants as well as S and GT-Line trim levels for both.

Mr Rivero said Kia Australia is forecasting the new Niro EV to be the higher-volume model. Further, GT-Line models are expected to account for the bulk of sales across both powertrain variants.

While pricing and full specifications for the local range are still to be confirmed, Mr Rivero said the company is “looking to add value” compared to the outgoing line-up, including the debut of Kia Connect online services.

You can read our coverage of the 2023 Kia Niro’s initial confirmed details here.

The outgoing Niro Hybrid S starts from $39,990 plus on-roads ($41,990 D/A) while the Hybrid Sport is $43,890 before on-roads or $45,990 drive-away. Meanwhile, the Niro EV S kicks off from $62,950 ($67,490 D/A) and the EV Sport is priced from $65,990 ($70,990 D/A).

Mr Rivero’s comments hint that the new-generation Niro HEV S should kick off around the low-$40,000 mark, with the GT-Line approaching $50,000. Likewise the Niro EV should play in the low-$60,000 bracket for the S and nudge the base EV6 Air ($67,990) in GT-Line guise.

Compared to rival brands, the Niro Hybrid range will compete with the hybrid Toyota C-HR and RAV4, while the Niro EV will continue to play against base versions of the Tesla Model 3 as well as the Polestar 2 and the related Hyundai Kona Electric Extended Range.

Stay tuned to CarExpert for the latest, and let us know if you’re hanging out for a Kia Niro PHEV in the comments below.

MORE: 2023 Kia Niro here in June with Kia Connect
MORE: Everything Kia Niro

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James Wong
James Wong

James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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