Kia has confirmed its Niro Plus, a low- or zero-emission option for taxi drivers and rideshare operators, is coming to Australia before the end of 2022.
Based on the previous Niro (the new car is already on sale in South Korea), the Niro Plus will be available with Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid or Electric variants, and is 10mm longer and 80mm taller than the first-generation Niro to maximise space in the cabin.
Speaking with CarExpert, a representative for Kia Australia confirmed our market is one of the “select overseas markets” to receive the Niro Plus, with vehicles to land Down Under during the second half of 2022.
The spokesperson indicated the purpose-built Niro will be available in “limited numbers” and aimed at fleets, though was unable to confirm which powertrains will be offered.
Given its skew towards taxi operators and ride-hailing services back home, it’s likely the Niro Plus – particularly a Niro Plus Hybrid – would appeal to ride share drivers looking for a low- or zero-emissions vehicle that’s more current than something like a Toyota Prius V.
Further Australian details of the Niro Plus will be announced closer to the new model’s arrival in the later stages of this year.
According to the media release, Kia says the Niro Plus is “firmly part” of its plans “to become a Sustainable Mobility Solutions Provider and leader in PBV development”.
In South Korea the brand will offer a general version of private owners – for business, recreational and ride-hailing use – as well as a specialised taxi version tailored to the wants and needs of Korean taxi operators.
The taxi variant will only be available with the zero-emissions EV powertrain and sees further developments such as slimmed-down cabin structures such as the seats and door trims to maximise occupant space.
Door reflectors and assist handles feature in both the taxi and general versions of the Niro Plus, though the former gets a display incorporating the vehicle’s infotainment system as well a taximeter and digital tachograph.
Kia says it plans to establish partnerships with various businesses in the Korean market to offer over-the-air updates and services.
Further, the Niro Plus will be first of multiple “purpose-built vehicles” from the Korean manufacturer, with the first dedicated PBV due in 2025. That’s when the company also projects the PBV market will “mature”. Said new model will be “similar in size to a mid-sized vehicle, with inherent scalability”.
On the subject of the standard Niro, the second-generation version of Kia’s eco-friendly crossover is due to land in Australia in the third quarter months, with Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid and EV versions all due.
It wears a new design, and packs an overhauled interior inspired by the EV6 electric vehicle incorporating sustainable materials, as well as updated versions of the existing powertrain set.
The Niro Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) pair a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, battery pack and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, with the PHEV offering up to 65km of range (WLTP) from its larger battery pack with plug-in charging capability.
Meanwhile, the Niro EV features a 64.8kWh battery pack and 150kW/255Nm electric motor, with up to 463 kilometres of WLTP-certified range for the European model. Australian specs will be confirmed closer to launch – stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest.
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