The first ever all-electric Kia e-Niro has been spotted on Sydney streets, ahead of a possible release during the Australian Open tennis tournament in January 2020.
Sister carmaker to South Korean Hyundai, which already has two electric vehicles available on the Australia (the Ioniq fastback and the Kona Electric crossover SUV), the Kia e-Niro has long been pegged for an Australian release but as late as December 2018 Kia was still reluctant to give a release date.
Now, the appearance of the e-Niro on a Sydney road, snapped by a very sharp member of the Australian EV community and posted to Twitter:
— 💧SydEV🔋 (@sydney_ev) August 23, 2019
The appearance of the vehicle on city streets shows that this release date is likely to be approaching and according to Car Advice, Kia Australia’s chief operating officer Damien Meredith recently said that a launch at the Australian Open would be “an amazing way to launch our EV range”.
That would mean a possible release date in January 2020, bringing another electric vehicle onto the local market where a lack of choice in EVs has been cited as a key barrier to uptake despite a global shift to electric and zero emissions transport.
However, whether that is a solid date is yet to be confirmed; only weeks ago in early August there reports via GoAuto that the Kia would not be here in time for the tournament, but a release in 2020 can be counted on.
Meredith did say that the South Korean carmaker is in talks with the Victorian Government and the EV Council about the plan, hopeful to give the e-Niro the chance to make a big splash onto the Australian market.
The Kia e-Niro, which has been available on the US, Europe and UK auto markets and elsewhere for some time now, would offer Australians another choice of electric crossover similar to the Kona Electric which is priced starting from $A59,990 before on-road costs.
With a 64kWh battery, 400km real world range and maximum power of 130kW from the electric motor, its specs are also comparable to the Kona Electric which was released to the Australian auto market in March.
With demand high for the Hyundai Kona Electric, as well as the all-electric version of the Hyundai Ioniq which comes in three drivetrains – battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid, Hyundai Motors Australia says its order books are full.
Kia Australia is keen to grab some of that interest, which in Australia is growing fast (latest numbers from Roy Morgan suggest that interest in EVs has doubled in the last 12 months).
“I believe in EV and if we want to keep improving the brand we need to be at the cutting edge of these types of vehicles,” Meredith told Car Advice.
Kia will not be bringing the plug-in hybrid or hybrid e-Niro to Australia, according to Car Advice, perhaps learning from the experience of Hyundai which far more interest in its battery electric variants than its PHEV and hybrid stablemates.
Kia Australia has been contacted for comment and we will update you as more information comes to hand.
Update: Kia Australia has confirmed the presence of a few early validation models in Australia, but that there is no confirmed launch date as yet.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.