Kia thinks the e-Niro is the right vehicle for a battery-powered powertrain because crossovers and SUVs are increasingly popular in Europe, but they are perceived as fuel guzzlers and polluters. A full-electric powertrain can compensate for the potential drawbacks, Alper Celik, product manager for the Niro, said.
The battery-powered car joins full-hybrid and plug-in hybrid Niro variants. The model is also a key element of Kia’s European electrification strategy. Last year more than 10 percent of all cars Kia sold in Europe were electrified, and the percentage is expected to grow in 2019 to between 15 percent and 20 percent, Emilio Herrera, Kia Europe’s chief operating officer, told Automotive News Europe. Industrywide annual sales of electric vehicles across Europe are expected to rise to nearly 1 million units a year by 2022, Herrera said in a release. In Europe, Kia also sells full- and plug-in-hybrid versions of the Optima midsize sedan and a full-electric version of the Soul crossover, whose second generation will go on sale in the first half.
The e-Niro’s electric motor, onboard power charger and power unit are basically the same as in the Hyundai Kona Electric small crossover, said Vittorio D’Arienzo, group manager of product planning at the Hyundai Europe technical center.