Kia Niro EV Achieves 301 Miles of Range in Testing

From out of left field comes the Kia Niro electric crossover, which by our calculations is the most efficient production EV in the world.

2018 Niro Plug-In Hybrid
Bruce Benedict—© Bruce Benedict 2017

Testing of the upcoming subcompact Kia Niro electric crossover has shown that the vehicle manages 301 miles of range on a full charge.

Examiners used the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) methodology to determine the Niro EV's combined range of 301 miles, though they discovered that urban-only range (where EVs are more efficient) was as high as 382 miles according to Express. The Niro EV accomplishes this range with a 64 kilowatt-hour battery, which, when plugged into a 100-kilowatt fast charger, can recharge to 80 percent in 54 minutes, averaging 4.46 miles of range recuperation per minute.

This fast charge rate is unexceptional in the rapidly-growing electric vehicle market, falling slightly behind vehicles like the Jaguar I-Pace with its 4.8 miles of recharging per minute on the same type of fast charger. What's special about the Niro EV is that its range of 301 miles is superior to that of many vehicles with significantly larger batteries, such as the newly-revealed Audi e-Tron, which does just 249 miles with a 95 kWh battery.

The WLTP testing suggests the Niro EV could be the most efficient production-destined EV in the world at present, wringing out 4.7 miles of range per battery kWh. This is greater than the rear-wheel-drive, 75 kWh Tesla Model 3, which we previously ranked as the efficiency king, doing 4.45 miles per battery kWh.

Testing methodology differences between the Enviornmental Protection Agency and WLTP may be accountable for the chasm between both Kia's pre-testing estimate of 236 miles of range for the Niro EV and the efficiency demonstrated by the most efficient Tesla. The WLTP protocols, however are expected to give lesser range and efficiency estimates than older testing methods according to Green Car Reports, which leaves open the possibility that the Niro EV's range could be even greater if tested using older methods.

How much is shared between the similar Niro EV and Hyundai Kona EV is uncertain. The two Korean automakers are closely tied, but not quite one and the same. Both the Niro and Kona are subcompact crossovers and their respective EV variants use either 39.2-kWh or 64-kWh battery packs that put power down through the front axle. Under EPA testing, the Kona demonstrated 258 miles of range despite a greater pre-test estimated range of 250 miles, and both automakers profess different fast-charge rates, suggesting that despite similar powertrains, the two differ significantly.

"The architectures between the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro are different," explained Hyundai spokesperson Miles Johnson to The Drive, pointing out the two vehicles' differing wheelbases. 

He did admit that because the Kia and Hyundai products' unaligned model cycles make significant differences between the two unavoidable, the Niro and Kona do share some electric drivetrain components to reduce overall cost.

"The Hyundai Motor Group strategy is to maximize cross utilization of e-drive components to make the more affordable," added Johnson. "This strategy goes across the group (Hyundai/KIA) and also across the product lines—HEV, EV, PHEV and FCEV."

A Kia spokesperson declined to comment, stating the the Niro has yet to be confirmed for the U.S. market, but they promised we'll be among the first to hear more when Kia decides whether or not to sell the Niro here.