The current Kia Niro EV has received what we reckon is its final model year update in South Korea and the United States, indicating that the first-generation car would see 2021 off.
The big news is that the next-generation Kia Niro EV is now further into its development cycle. Here’s an in-depth look at Kia’s upcoming electric crossover SUV, which will debut in 2022 –
2022 Kia Niro Design
Video Source: youtube.com/굳맨TV GOODMANTV
In March 2021, YouTube channel 굳맨TV GOODMANTV spotted test mules of the 2022 Kia Niro, and a video revealed the new edgy exterior mirrors with C-shaped turn indicators. This second ORVM design hinted at a new GT-line trim with a sportier exterior.
The same month, Instagrammer shingeun_pic gave us our first look at the next-gen Kia Niro EV. The Instagrammer spotted a test mule in South Korea, where Kia is developing the EV. Zooming into the image, the prototype’s rear axle has ‘SG2 EV’ inscribed on it, suggesting that the eco-friendly variant of the Niro will continue into the second generation, with perhaps the fully-electric Niro launching simultaneously as other variants.
In December 2020, the 2022 Kia Niro was spied testing in South Korea, courtesy blog.naver.com user soonjung8116. The sighting provided a close look at its headlamp assembly. The 2022 Kia Niro comes with tall headlamps with vertically stacked LED main lights, and an LED DRL, a full-width strip forming the periphery. The DRL’s shape is inspired by that of the Kia HabaNiro concept from the 2019 New York International Auto Show, and it’d be great if the production car retained the heartbeat pulse effect as well. The front-end will feature a skid plate with “NIRO” branding as well. These features would improve the SUV’s assertiveness.
In November 2021, the 2022 Kia Niro (Kia SG2) was snapped on U.S. soil for the first time. Autospies.com reader Fred Khaz had shared pictures (above) of the upcoming electric-ready SUV. Khaz’s photos reaffirmed that the 2022 Niro would adopt two-tier headlamps shifting to its next generation. The landing of a prototype in the U.S. suggested that the program has advanced to where global testing and validation come into the picture.
The Niro EV (Kia e-Niro) arrived in the U.S. market in 2019 as the first Kia electric car in the country. The all-new 2022 Kia Niro EV cannot afford to not improve in all respects, given the competitive landscape in the electric SUV market.
The Niro EV offers a traditional crossover SUV design, making EV adoption approachable as it feels like a regular vehicle for the most part. The second-gen Kia Niro EV will change this recipe for quirkiness. A lowered stance, radically different lighting, petal-shaped wheels, flexing-bicep mirror indicators, and a contrast C-Pillar are signs that the Niro’s design language is evolving rapidly.
In June 2021, Instagram user mr_bimmer_kim shared spy pictures of a 2022 Kia Niro EV prototype with the same petal-shaped alloy wheels as the test mule in the picture above. One of these new images revealed that the two-tone alloy wheels are 17-inch units wrapped in 215/55 R17 94V tires from Kumho.
The rear-end of the 2022 Niro will have similarities to the HabaNiro. Spy pictures show boomerang-shaped vertical taillights and that design originates from the SUV concept. The unique design of the headlights and taillights will allow the all-new Niro to stand out immediately. However, we would like to point out that the Hyundai Bayon, also unavailable stateside, has the same style of tail lamps.
Recent spy pictures have shown that the 2022 Kia Niro EV draws much more than just the light design from the Bayon. The gallery above highlights the striking similarity between the two cars. The windscreen is extremely raked, in a steeper angle compared to the first-gen Niro. Another noticeable change is the relocation of the registration plate area from the bumper to the tailgate. Where the current model has rounded elements for soft styling, the 2022 e-Niro has sharp lines for an edgy and aggressive styling that applies to the rear windows and quarter glasses, too.
2022 Kia Niro Interior
Observing how Kia models have shaped up in the recent past, it was certain that the next-gen Niro will be noticeably more refined, connected, and digital. The dashboard should have a slimmer profile for an increased sense of space and feature a metallic trim for an upscale appearance.
An interior spy shot on Autocar recently revealed a clean center console design with noticeably fewer physical controls and a fully digital instrument cluster, which could measure 12.3 inches diagonally. The next-gen model’s center console will likely house larger central HVAC vents for improved airflow. Even the partially electric variant(s) may feature a rotary gear selector in the second generation. Kia could offer new haptic buttons on either side of the central display.
UVO Connect system
Kia should equip the 2022 Niro with the new UVO Connect infotainment system that is snappier and more intuitive and features more connectivity options in all markets. On-demand Find My Car with Surround View Monitor that shares images of the vehicle’s surroundings using cameras, Last Mile Navigation that provides walking directions to the vehicle, Connected Routing cloud-based route calculation system, etc., could be among the new features. The next-gen model should come with over-the-air (OTA) software upgrade capability as well.
Kia updated the UVO Connect app with improved graphics, revised menus, and additional functionality in June 2021. It may update the app again when launching the next-gen Niro EV, although not as extensively.
The updated UVO Connect app (called UVO Connect 2021 on the Google Play and Apple App stores) has new icons for a cleaner look. It features a new customizable home menu that allows the user to enable shortcuts for frequently used functions. Enhancements in the app include a revised settings menu and improved biometric identification as well.
In addition to introducing features to bring the Niro up to date with the rest of the Kia family, Kia would bring changes based on the customer feedback. UK-based TopElectricSUV.com reader Gill Nowell (Twitter: Gill_Nowell), who has owned a Kia e-Niro for a year and driven it for 8,000 miles, looks forward to minor revisions like a backlit Auto Hold, directly switchable drive modes (from Sport to Drive), and a more intuitive regenerative braking system. Gill, who is convinced that the Niro is fundamentally a great family car, is looking for “virtuous tweaks, rather than any wholesale adjustments” on the incoming SUV.
2022 Kia Niro powertrain
The current Kia e-Niro packs a 64 kWh (356 V, 180 Ah) lithium-ion battery pack and a 150 kW (201 horsepower)/395 Nm (291 lb.-ft.) electric motor. It has an EPA-estimated range of 239 miles. The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric with the same setup has an EPA-estimated range of 258 miles.
In some markets, the current e-Niro is available with a smaller 39.2 kWh (327 V, 120 Ah) lithium-ion battery pack that gives a range (WLTP) of 179 miles. The motor generates 100 kW (134 horsepower) and 395 Nm (291 lb.-ft.) of torque in this spec. Kia may not repeat this variant in the second generation, at least not in the UK, where more than 95% of the orders are for the long-range variant. Paul Philpott, President and CEO, Kia UK and Ireland, revealed this tidbit to Autocar magazine. The company may address the needs of short-range EV buyers with the Soul EV henceforth.
It looks like the Niro is not migrating to the advanced Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). So, its electric variant is unlikely to have a flat floor or feature wireless vehicle charging. Kia may not offer high-end exterior features like virtual mirrors and a solar roof on this entry-level EV.
The Kia Niro hybrid and Kia Niro PHEV should be renewed for customers and markets that aren’t ready to adopt battery-electric cars. The eco-car platform that debuted in 2015, with improvements, could underpin the new Niro, sustaining the multi-energy variant strategy (E-GMP is designed exclusively for battery electric vehicles). Expect close to 275 miles of EPA-estimated range in the all-new Niro EV.
The 2022 Kia Niro EV will compete with its cousin, the Hyundai Kona EV, which features a new face and updated interior following the mid-cycle refresh in 2020. It will rival the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, the new electric SUV that reached dealers in May 2021. Expect a starting price of under USD 40,000 for the second-generation Niro.
The all-new Kia Niro EV will have a long list of competitors in Europe, where compact electric SUVs include the Hyundai Kona EV, DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, Opel Mokka-e/Vauxhall Mokka-e, and Peugeot e-2008.
Kia SG2 is the 2023 Kia Niro for the U.S.
The first-gen Kia Niro EV will likely remain on sale in the U.S. until summer 2022. It received the MY2021 update on June 4, 2021, and then the MY2022 update just two months later on August 30, 2021. While design and technical specifications remain unchanged, the MY2021 updated improved the first-gen model’s safety and convenience.
Kia introduced Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) as a new standard safety feature for the Niro EV with the MY2021 update. It added wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto to the convenience features and offers both across the range. Cabin preheating or cooling became possible, thanks to Remote Start functionality. Lastly, the DriveWise ADAS suite gained three new functions: Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA), Highway Driving Assist (HDA), and Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control – Curve (NSCC-C).
With the MY2022 update, Kia made the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with UVO link and Sirius XM satellite radio, and the premium Harmon/Kardon sound system standard equipment in the Niro EV. The company kept the prices unchanged, USD 39,990 in the EX trim and USD 44,650 in the EX Premium trim.
e-Niro proving to be Kia’s workhorse
The current-gen Kia Niro is not a sales champion in the United States, but it has contributed positively to the image of Kia electric vehicles in the country. In fact, the EV variant has won the heart of many Americans that it was ranked No.1 in the J.D. Power 2021 Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study. 10,000 EV owners were surveyed in the study on factors like range, ownership cost, and driving enjoyment to understand how likely the customers are to repurchase their EV and recommend it to others.
Kia announced in January 2021 that the Niro EV recorded its best-ever annual sales in the USA in 2020, and according to media reports, it sold over 2,800 units in 2020. The company must have high expectations from the next-gen Niro EV when it goes on sale next year with a cool new look.
The same should be true in Europe, where Niro is Kia’s second best-selling model line overall. Kia sold 77,498 units of Niro in Europe last year, and 31,032 were of the Niro EV. In 2021, in the UK alone, the company sold 7,124 units of the Niro EV (e-Niro) between January and August 2021. In August 2021, the small electric SUV was the UK’s second best-selling EV, recording a sales figure of 513 units and taking a market share of 6.9%.
According to a report from The Korea Herald, Hyundai Motor Group has sold more than 200,000 EVs in Europe since 2014, with 131,719 units coming from Hyundai models and 96,200 units from Kias. Sales will grow significantly with the next-gen Niro EV (e-Niro) as more consumers switch to EVs. There’s sales potential from not only private customers but commercial customers as well. In June 2021, Kia struck a deal with Uber to offer EVs at special discounts to popularize them in the shared mobility segment.
Soul EV discontinuation clears the way for the e-Niro
The Kia Soul EV is gone for good in the U.S. The first-gen model was available stateside, but there’s no plan to launch the second generation, as per a report from Autoblog. The Kia Niro EV will be the only pure electric offering from the brand in that segment. The SUV body style and added space make the Niro EV suitable for American customers. Kia will go all-out in making the Niro EV a better fit for the U.S. market as its success in the B-segment hinges on it.
2022 Kia Niro EV FAQs
When will the new Kia Niro be launched?
The all-new Kia Niro will likely reach U.S. showrooms in the second half of 2022.
What will be the 2022 Kia Niro EV price?
The base variant of the 2022 Kia e-Niro is projected to start at well under $40,000.
Featured Image Source: youtube.com/굳맨TV GOODMANTV