South Korean car maker Kia has finally announced it will bring the all-electric e-Niro to Australia in mid-2021.
In 2019 the Australian arm of Kia admitted that it had been forced to delay an Australian launch of the popular electric SUV, as the South Korean auto manufacturer sought to meet demand in overseas markets such as the UK where it was declared a best-seller in November.
At the time, Kia cited Australia’s lack of EV policy compared to policies in the UK and Europe aimed at accelerating EV adoption to reduce transport pollution.
However, Kia has now done an about-turn despite the fact there is still no EV strategy or policy on the cards from the LNP-led Australian federal government other than a leaked discussion paper that focusses on “future fuels”.
According to a report by Go Auto, at a new-generation Carnival people mover launch on Friday, Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero confirmed the e-Niro will be launched locally in mid-2021, following a marketing campaign coinciding with February’s Australian Open tennis event.
Following comments that a plug-in hybrid variant of the upcoming Sorento would be launched this quarter, followed by a hybrid variant later in 2021, Rivero said, “On top of that in terms of EV, I’m pleased to announce there will be a fifth SUV joining our range, no surprises it will be the Niro.”
Even better, the delay until mid-2021 will mean that the e-Niro that reaches Australian shores will be a mid-life refreshed version.
“And, we’ll be getting that at its mid-life PE (product enhancement) stage also, and it will be available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid as well as EV, so all three powertrains will be made available to us,” said Rivero.
It is not clear whether all three drivetrains will be launched together, but when the EV version is launched it will join the Hyundai Kona EV as well as the recently launched MG ZS EV as one of the few all-electric compact SUVs on the Australian market.
Sporting the same 64kWh battery size as the Kona Electric, it offers a 480+ kilometre driving range, and is expected to cost in the vicinity of $60,000 before on-roads.
Go Auto reports that the e-Niro launch will not be delayed even if further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic results in cancellation or rescheduling of the Australian Open.
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.