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Fully Electric Kia Niro SUV & Plug-In Hybrid Kia Niro SUV Planned

As a result of strong demand for its new SUV, the “Niro,” Kia will be releasing fully electric and plug-in hybrid versions of the new crossover in the near future, according to recent reports.

Kia Niro

Following release of the Kia Niro in Korea, demand has been surpassing expectations, so the company has decided to move ahead with plans for a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version and an all-electric (EV) version of the Niro, and is expecting strong sales in the American and European markets.

The company’s Chief Operating Officer, Thomas Oh, recently stated in an interview that he expected sales in the US to total 40,000 during the first year, when it launches in 2017. And that he expected sales in Europe to total 20,000 a year following the launch there. (Though, it seems this includes conventional hybrid versions of the Niro.)

Commenting on the reasons for this, Oh noted that SUV sales are going strong but sedan sales are mostly flat, and that there’s an unfilled market out there for small “eco-friendly” SUVs.

Oh stated: “It does not look like a Prius because Prius customers are very loyal, but many customers want small SUVs, including those looking for eco-friendly cars.” That does seem to represent anecdotal experience we’ve accumulated.

“This year, globally, eco-friendly cars are around 2 million vehicles, with electric vehicles just 100,000,” Oh continued. “By 2020, we expect eco-friendly to rise to around 600,000, with 42% hybrid, 32% plug-in hybrid, and 27% electric. That is a significant increase and it makes sense to combine the technology with vehicle types that customers want to buy.”

Our sister site Gas2 notes that, “the transition to cars that use less gasoline and fewer carbon emissions is accelerating, apparently, despite historically low gas prices. Attitudes among car buyers are beginning to change and they are demanding more eco-friendly options. That’s a positive sign for the future.”

On that note, plug-in car sales were up 48% in the US in July, and 19% for the year through July.

Unfortunately, overall car ownership rates are continuing to rise, as those in the “developing world” are buying them in greater and greater quantity. “Eco-friendly” or not, more cars = more cars. If one is truly looking to cut emissions, while still allowing for the current (very high levels) of recreational and business travel to be maintained to some degree, then mass-transit solutions such as regional light rail and trams/streetcars are likely a better option than simply the electrification of personal vehicles.

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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