Next year, Kia plans to begin delivering the Kia Niro, an all-new hybrid SUV.
Kia said it designed the Niro from “the ground up as a dedicated hybrid” to satisfy two growing markets: low emission vehicles and compact SUVs. The Niro is also one of the first vehicles to belaunched under Kia’s new green car initiative, which includes plans for six other models to be added over the next five years.
A “downsized hybrid platform” will be powering the Niro, with electrification from a single 32-kilowatt electric motor and a 1.56 kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery pack. The 1.6-liter Kappa gasoline engine features direct injection and an output of 104 horsepower, with a six-speed dual clutch transmission.
As part of the hybrid’s development, Kia noted the “platform underpinning the Niro has been engineered specifically to accommodate this next-generation gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain.”“The main focus of engineering teams’ efforts behind the development of the new model is to deliver class-leading fuel economy in the compact SUV segment,” said Kia, adding that the Niro “will combine a stylish SUV design with greater fuel economy than its rivals, with a target CO2 emissions rating of under 90 gram/kilometer (combined, based on the New European Driving Cycle).”
Estimates for fuel economy and emissions based on EPA tests were not released. However, if Kia wants the Niro to be a class-leading compact SUV in the U.S., it will have to beat the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. As one of the most fuel-efficient models in this class, the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid is rated at 33 mpg overall with carbon emissions measured at 270 grams/mile (167.8 g/km). It’s difficult to directly compare European and U.S. measurements, however, as U.S. standards tend to fall on the conservative side.
Production for the Niro is set to begin in late 2016, with initial deliveries planned for “overseas markets,” though Kia declined requests to clarify if this meant Europe, the U.S. or both. Sometime later, a plug-in hybrid Niro will also be added.