A version of this article was first posted on FleetWorld’s blog
Kia’s e-Niro electric SUV is still proving popular with potential customers and helping to build the brand’s EV presence despite having sold out of this year’s allocation.
Launched near the start of the year, the all-electric model sold out of all its 900 allocated UK units in less than a month, helped by competitive pricing, a WLTP-rated 282-mile range from a full charge, and with support for 100kW rapid charge rates at compatible charge points.
But even though UK customers may be frustrated over having to wait for next year’s allocation to buy the game-changing e-Niro, product manager Alper Celik told Fleet World at the Geneva Motor Show that Kia will still have a strong customer base to build on for future models.
“I see it from both sides – slight frustration on the customer side, having to wait for six months on average for an EV. But, on the other hand, this is a technology that takes time to bring [to market] – but the commitment from the customer is there to wait for this.”
Celik went on to talk about Kia’s research in the C-segment – where the e-Niro competes – which shows 95% of cars in this sector are priced below €35,000, so with the e-Niro costing over €38,500 in Europe, it’s believed any growth will be incremental rather than rapid. Yet he believes it will create a loyal fan base – even for fleet.
“We are opening a big customer base, which I think will help us very much when the concept car revealed here [the Imagine electric saloon] hits the road. Many other manufacturers when they launch their first EVs will have to conquest other makes. We believe the customers that have already bought the e-Niro and the Soul EV will be the buyers of this next model. This is very important to a brand like Kia.”
He believes the industry is still in a transitionary phase to electrification, although the e-Niro and the incoming new Soul EV preview a future EV market without incentives.
“It’s all about setting the trend and tradition. People are buying these EVs thanks to these incentives, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that people are buying. They are driving EVs and getting used to it, meaning that the barrier in their mind is not going to be there in the future. Considering there will be a wider selection of electric models, customers will already be in this mindset; the trend will already be set.”