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Kia eyes small SUV market with ‘Niro’ hybrid

Kia Motors has set its sights on the compact sport utility vehicle market this year, armed with its first hybrid SUV, dubbed the “Niro,” to cement market leading status in the leisure vehicle market.

The Korean automaker stood ahead of its sister firm Hyundai Motor in sales last year in different recreational vehicle segments, except the small SUV market in which the carmaker has no flagship model.

Niro, which made its global debut at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show in February, is Kia’s first green car built on the automaker’s dedicated eco-car platform.

The all-new utility vehicle, which is bigger than the Soul but smaller than the Sportage, is also its first compact crossover, designed to strengthen the Korean carmaker’s SUV product lineup.

At a media preview event, held at the firm’s Namyang research and development center on Wednesday, the Korean automaker made it clear 
that its Niro hybrid SUV will target three major compact SUVs in the local market -- SsangYong’s Tivoli, Renault Samsung’s QM3 and GM Korea’s Chevrolet Trax.

Engineers of Kia Motors conduct a product quality inspection on Kia’s all-new Niro hybrid sport utility vehicle, at a media preview event held on Wednesday at the automaker’s Namyang research and development center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. Kia Motors
Engineers of Kia Motors conduct a product quality inspection on Kia’s all-new Niro hybrid sport utility vehicle, at a media preview event held on Wednesday at the automaker’s Namyang research and development center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. Kia Motors

“The company has adopted a strategic pricing policy for Niro to compete with the highest trim of rivals,’’ said Seo Bo-won from Kia’s domestic marketing unit. According to the industry sources, the price of three trims of Niro will range between 22 million won ($18,400) and 27 million won.

Besides the affordable price, the Kia Niro offers a compelling blend of an SUV’s practicality and modern styling, and a wagon look, while keeping the green car advantages of low emissions and high fuel efficiency. The company, however, has delayed the release of fuel efficiency specs until the launch event.

Outside Korea, the nation’s second-largest carmaker will focus on its green car push with Niro, targeting the European market where it has built a strong base for eco-friendly mobility.

Together with Hyundai, Kia will expand its green car lineup, launching the Niro EV and plug-in hybrid variants, in line with the 2020 green car road map of Hyundai Motor Group.

The Korean automotive group seeks to take about 10 percent market share in the green car market with 26 eco-car models by 2020.

By Seo Jee-yeon
(jyseo@heraldcorp.coom)

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