The arrival of the hotly awaited Kia e-Niro in Australia may be put back due to difficulties meeting overseas demand and instead it could be replaced by the South Korean carmaker’s all-electric Soul.
The Kia e-Niro, with a 64kWh battery (like the Hyundai Kona) and 450km driving range, has been on the cards for Australia for some time now and most recently it was thought that its release would coincide with the Australian Open tennis tournament that the company sponsors.
The e-Niro has been seen on Australian roads for some early validation and testing, as we reported on in late August, however Kia Australia later confirmed to The Driven that a firm release date for the e-Niro had not yet been set.
Now, according to reports from Car Advice, the e-Niro’s popularity in Europe, in part due to financial incentives to accelerate EV uptake, may now mean it faces delays, meaning that its release here may be preceded by the e-Soul that Kia was considering selling alongside it.
Australia, which is experiencing a surge of interest in electric vehicles (EVs) although petrol and diesel sales are in a 17-month decline, is sorely in need of larger SUV-style electric vehicles given the five-fold jump in electric SUV sales from August to September 2019 reported by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
This has been driven by the Hyundai Kona compact crossover which starts at $59,990 before on-roads, and to a lesser extent the premium Jaguar i-Pace which is at least double the price.
Based on European pricing, the e-Niro (which starts at €35,290, $A57,000 converted) would come in just above the Kona Electric (which starts at €34,600, $A56,800 converted) whereas the e-Soul (which starts at €33,990, or $A54,900 converted) would come in just below in Australia.
So how would the e-Niro and the e-Soul (the 64kWh version of which is more likely to be the model that makes it to Australian shores) stack up to the Hyundai Kona?
Although still classed as a compact SUV, the e-Niro is in fact 10cm longer and offers more trunk volume than the Kona Electric.
It has the same classic SUV style of the Kona Electric and is bound to please those after a slightly larger electric SUV without the premium i-Pace pricing.
The e-Soul on the other hand with its funky, boxy design aimed at a younger audience may find it harder to please the Australian market which hasn’t been that chuffed about it in previous fossil-fuelled incarnations – although the lower pricing may entice some.
All three vehicles offer 150kW power output from the front-wheel, permanent synchronous motor, while the Kia models benefit from an extra Eco+ driving mode over the Hyundai Kona’s Eco, Comfort and Sport.
No doubt both will be met with enthusiasm when they do arrive. Official pricing for Australia is expected closer to launch dates and we will keep you posted as news comes to hand.
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.