An all-electric Kia e-Niro that will go up against the Hyundai Kona EV and MG ZS EV has been spotted charging in Canberra, sparking questions about whether they have already gone on sale in Australia.
The award-winning electric compact SUV, which has proven a best-seller in the UK, was originally slated to arrive in Australia coinciding with the Australian Open tennis championship in 2020.
A white e-Niro was spotted testing in 2019 but Kia later confirmed it was delaying a local release indefinitely, blaming the absence of any support for electric vehicles in Australia, a conversation that is still very much alive (see Juice Media’s excellent Honest Government Ad on Electric Vehicles released on Saturday).
Instead, Kia chose to shuffle inventory to the UK where there were already thousands of backorders. The Zoe electric hatch has also fallen victim to Australia’s EV policy chasm and since been pulled from the market altogether.
But Kia changed its tune in late 2020 when its local arm finally confirmed the e-Niro had been secured for a mid-2021 launch.
Now, a red e-Niro has been spotted charging at SG Fleet in Canberra by Slava Kozlovskii, founder of EV hire company Evee, who shared images on Twitter on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Kia Australia confirmed with The Driven that the car in question is a fleet evaluation vehicle, in testing ahead of the e-Niro’s mid-2021 launch.
— Slava Kozlovskii (@slava_evee) April 27, 2021
The e-Niro is an all-electric version of the Kia’s popular Niro. Like the Hyundai Kona EV, it has been modified to integrate an electric drivetrain and battery.
Like the Kona, the e-Niro is available in overseas markets in two battery sizes. However, in Australia, the Kona EV is only available in the long-range version with a 64kWh battery and around 480km driving range and is priced from $59,990 (before on-road costs).
It is unclear at this stage if the e-Niro will be offered with just one battery capacity, but if the smaller battery size makes it here it would place it as a competitor against the more affordable short-range MG ZS EV which costs just $43,990 driveaway.
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 since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.