The Kia Niro EV Debuts at the LA Auto Show

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【Summary】Kia Motors has become the latest automaker to introduce a fully-electric compact SUV. The Korean automaker unveiled the Niro EV yesterday at press event the LA Auto Show.

Eric Walz    Jan 05, 2019 11:11 AM PT
The Kia Niro EV Debuts at the LA Auto Show

LOS ANGELES — Kia Motors has become the latest automaker to introduce a fully-electric compact SUV. The Korean automaker unveiled the Niro EV for the first time in North America yesterday at the LA Auto Show. The Niro EV is the third iteration of the Niro. The first to arrive was the hybrid in 2016, followed by the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) a year later, and now Kia will deliver a fully-electric version.

The new Niro gets its power from a from a state-of-the-art, liquid-cooled 64 kWh lithium ion polymer battery that is embedded under the floor of the vehicle, giving passengers some extra room. The battery offers a EPA-rated range of 239 miles.

The electric motor provides 201-horsepower with 291 ft lb of torque, giving the Niro EV plenty of power. For comparison, the 2018 BMW 3-Series equipped with the standard 4-cylinder, turbocharged gas engine is rated at 258 ft lb of torque.

The Niro is equipped with a standard combined charging system (CCS) that accepts level 1 and 2 charging that allows for the battery to be charged at 100 kW. This DC fast-charging capability is standard equipment and provides an  extra 100 miles of range in about 30 minutes or 80 percent battery charge in 75 minutes. Using a Level 2 (240v) 7.2 kWh charger, the Niro takes approximately 9.5 hours to reach a full charge, which is typical for most EVs.

Kia's says the Niro EV delivers a vehicle that's entertaining to drive and feels stable on the road due to the low center of gravity from the weight of the batteries in the floor.

Four Drive Modes

The Niro EV allows drivers to select from 4 distinct driving modes, including Eco, Normal, Sport and Eco+. Each mode automatically adjust regenerative braking level, air conditioning and heating settings, and even set speed limits to manage operating efficiency.

The Smart regenerative braking is operated via paddle shifters on the steering wheel, which provides drivers the ability to slow the car down with using the hydraulic brakes and capture kinetic energy, returning energy to the battery for extra range.

Drivers can also choose from four regenerative braking levels (0 to 3) depending on how aggressive drivers want the regen effort and energy efficiency (range) needs. In addition, the Niro has a ‘Brake and Hold System' feature which brings the vehicle to a full stop using the regenerative function alone. The system captures all of the energy that would have been lost using the standard mechanical brakes to stop.

Kia's Smart Regen System adjusts the regenerative braking level based on how close another vehicle is in front. This gives a smoother coast, especially when descending a steep road. A display on the dash helps to keep the driver aware of real-time power distribution based on accelerator pedal input, so drivers can adapt their driving style to increase efficiency of the electric powertrain.


One noticeable feature of the Niro EV is that is has no front grill openings, since cooling from a radiator is not needed. The look is further enhanced by what Kia calls "Arrowhead" LED Daytime Running Lights. The bumpers has revised fascias with blue trim accents which are unique to the Niro EV.

The Niro EV is loaded with high-tech, advanced automotive technology to complement its status as a state-of-the-art, all-electric vehicle. Equipment includes the "Kia Drive Wise" suite of Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems, and a long list of standard and optional equipment.

Other convenience features include a 7-inch color touchscreen with rear view monitor and parking assistance, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, standard wireless smartphone charging and Bluetooth.

Safety Systems

The Niro EV comes with 7 airbags, electronic stability control, forward collision warning (FCW), forward collision-avoidance assist (FCA), lane departure warning (LDW) and lane keeping Assist (LKA), and driver attention warning (DAW) system that monitors the vehicle as well as the driving style and behavior of the driver. The DAW is able to detect irregularities, which may indicate driver fatigue or inattentiveness.

Kia Motors Corporation sources EV, HEV, and PHEV batteries from multiple global suppliers. Kia suppliers LG Chem and SK innovation. Both companies source battery elements, including cobalt, from a variety of regions. Battery engineers are constantly working to reduce the cobalt required to manufacture Kia's EV batteries.

The new Niro EV will be built in South Korea at Kia's Hwaseong manufacturing facility, the same plant that produces the Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Kia did not disclose the price of the Niro EV, pricing will be announced closer to the date when the vehicle goes on sale next year. The Niro EV will be available in two trims, EX and EX Premium.

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