South Korean auto maker Kia says it will ramp up supply of the all-electric e-Niro compact SUV to the UK in 2020 to fill 3,000 existing orders, while Australia contines to wait for a launch date.
The original UK allocation of the 2019 Kia e-Niro with 280 miles (450km) driving range was completely sold out in the UK just weeks after going to market, prompting the South Korean auto maker to announce it will ensure enough supply for waiting customers in the first half of 2020.
This will be followed by even more units in the second half of 2020, says Kia Motors UK, with all new stock supplied boasting new specifications including LED headlights, 10.25” enhanced touchscreen with satellite navigation, ambient lighting and telematics service connectivity.
“Since launching e-Niro at the beginning of the year, we have received unprecedented demand which has been a challenge to fulfil,” said Kia Motors UK CEO and president Paul Philpott in a statement to the press.
Priced in the UK from £34,495 ($A65,414 converted, after UK plug-in Car Grant discount), the new 2020 Kia e-Niro can be ordered now through dealerships to UK customers not already on the order books, with delivery to start for the second round of orders from July 2020.
The Kia e-Niro will be joined by the e-Soul, the order books for which opened in July and deliveries for which will commence in April 2020.
The e-Soul, priced from £33,795 ($A64,087 converted, after UK plug-in Car Grant discount), uses the same battery and powertrain as the e-Niro, and will also feature improved specifications from the previous model.
“As we enter 2020 with the Soul EV and e-Niro, we and our 190-strong dealer network are ready to meet customer demand for all-electric cars,” said Philpott.
While the ramp up of supply is great news for UK customers, it unfortunately means that Australian drivers are left waiting even longer for Kia’s electric offerings.
Kia Australia general manager for corporate communications Kevin Hepworth confirmed to The Driven that, as we reported in November, Kia will first supply to preferred markets which have fuel emissions regulations in place.
“Because of Kia’s global position, it does mean that markets are affected by supply issues to other markets,” Hepworth said.
“Overseas governments give an incentive or a benefit to having an electric vehicle in the market.
“If there is a limited pool of availability it’s going to be allocated in the way in which the company sees best benefit…because it keeps fuel averages down.
“Because Australia doesn’t have anything in that line the head office doesn’t see any benefit in providing [the vehicles here].”
Battery resources are also behind the metering out of supply to select markets, says Hepworth.
“The lithium battery market is really really tight, so they’re applying their resources as suited for a global plan.”
However Kia is still pushing to bring the e-Niro and e-Soul to Australia, where it has seen rises in sales against th backdrop of a falling auto market now in a 20 month decline.
“We are a small market and while we are a successful market, that’s something as a corporation we have to live with and keep trying to get around it. We still want the e-Niro and we want the e-Soul,” he says.
In the meantime, Kia is preparing for the eventual arrival of the e-Niro and e-Soul.
“We’re in the process of training service staff in electric vehicles, and installing electric vehicle charging points at dealerships,” Hepworth says.
“Nothing has been canceled, it’s simply been delayed.”
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.