All-electric Kia Niro EV to come in 2018, says Kia exec (updated)

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2017 Kia Niro, San Antonio, Texas, Dec 2016

2017 Kia Niro, San Antonio, Texas, Dec 2016

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South Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia often share the underpinnings of their vehicles, though there's no "badge engineering" and the two brands compete in the marketplace.

The recent Kia Niro hybrid wagon and the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid hatchback, for instance, share the same powertrain, platform, and other hidden components.

But while the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric will reach California dealers in April, its sibling brand continues on with the all-electric Kia Soul EV.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Kia Niro hybrid: first drive report

Now in its third model year, the Soul EV is an adapted version of Kia's most popular U.S. model, the Soul tall wagon.

While Hyundai has said from the start that the Ioniq will be offered in hybrid, battery-electric, and then plug-in hybrid versions, the Niro has so far only been discussed as a pair of hybrids.

That's about to change.

2017 Kia Niro, San Antonio, Texas, Dec 2016

2017 Kia Niro, San Antonio, Texas, Dec 2016

Enlarge Photo

Michael Cole, chief operating officer of Kia Motors Europe, confirmed to Dutch outlet AutoRAI that a Kia Niro EV will launch next year as a 2018 model. 

It will use exactly the same powertrain as the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric, he said, but won't be released until after the Kia Niro Plug-In hybrid version coming shortly.

The plug-in hybrid Niro is to launch in The Netherlands later this year, after production begins in March.

READ THIS: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq prices: hybrid starts at $23,035, electric at $30,335

The U.S. launch of the plug-in hybrid Niro version is anticipated late this year, according to Kia Motors USA.

The all-electric Niro, meanwhile, will use the same 28-kilowatt-hour battery pack and 88-kilowatt (120-horsepower) electric motor driving the front wheels.

Electric range for the Ioniq Electric on the NEDC cycle are 280 kilometers (174 miles), though the EPA rates its range at 124 miles combined.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Enlarge Photo

With the Niro being taller and heavier than the Ioniq, the range of a Niro EV might well be lower than the Ioniq Electric's 124 miles, perhaps closer to 110 or 115 miles.

The 2017 Kia Soul EV is rated at 93 miles of range, also using a 28-kwh battery pack, though owners say 100 miles is often attainable.

It seems likely that Kia loses money on every Soul EV it sells, given its adaptation from a gasoline platform and its role as the first electric car sold in volume by the brand.

CHECK OUT: Hyundai Ioniq Electric car to get 200 miles of range 'soon'

Switching from the customized Soul EV to the much higher-volume shared Ioniq/Niro platform should cut costs for Kia, but there's no indication yet of what an electric Niro would cost.

The 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric carries a base price of slightly over $30,000, including delivery.

Kia's U.S. arm thus far hasn't said anything about an all-electric Niro. Meanwhile, the Soul EV continues largely unchanged for 2017.

UPDATE: Following publication of this article, Kia Motors America communications manager Neil Dunlop responded to our query about future electric vehicles from Kia.

Regrettably, he provided absolutely no useful information: "I received your questions about the battery for Soul EV and possibility of an electric Niro. Sorry I don’t have better news, but I’m unable to help you with either question."

"Regarding [a possible battery capacity increase] for the 2018 Soul EV, we can’t comment on future product. And regarding the possibility of an electric Niro, Kia Motors America has made no announcement regarding the introduction of a Niro EV in the U.S., so no comment possible there either."

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