Published on August 7th, 2020 |
by Zachary Shahan
August 7th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
The Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona EV (cousins of sorts) were ahead of their time. Their combination of range for a semi-affordable price — as well as being in a popular vehicle class with good styling — put them on the top of many shopping lists. EV enthusiasts loved them. The Kona EV won CleanTechnica‘s 2019 Car of the Year award and the Kia e-Niro came in 2nd (42% and 23% of the vote, respectively). There was just one big problem….
Hyundai and Kia were not prepared to produce enough!
Whether they didn’t want to produce more or they had a horrible sense of the EV market and how much consumers would want them, Hyundai and Kia hadn’t secured enough batteries or set up enough production capacity. I recall that almost immediately the wait time to get one was a year or more in some markets. I met one of the first Kona EV buyers in Poland and he told me that only 15 Kona EVs had been allocated to Poland for 2019. A CleanTechnica commenter from Ireland named Richard Cruise added, “I spoke to a Kia salesman in Ireland yesterday. He said they had 5 (yes, only 5) e-Niros to sell for 2019 and sold them all within the first 3 hours.”
Frankly, looking at EV sales in recent years has been a horrible way to consider EV demand. There hasn’t been enough supply to show true demand. Now that the EU is requiring that automakers clean up their fleets, EV sales have surged. See:
So, although — as you can probably tell — I’m quite bitter about the longtime lack of supply and climate commitment from automakers such as Kia and Hyundai, I’m happy to share that Kia is finally ramping up production of the e-Niro to more acceptable levels — well, in the UK at least.
“For 2020 Kia Motors (UK) Ltd. harnessed the intense demand for its crossover EV and worked alongside Kia Motors Corporation in Korea to increase the UK supply to satisfy customers who have waited longer than desired for their 282 mile range EV. The sales figures speak for themselves, in July Kia UK delivered more e-Niros in one month than in the entirety of 2019,” Kia shares. As much as that is good news, it drives me a little crazy that 2019 supply was so low.
“Now firmly into H2 of 2020, availability has been increased even further, allowing for the shortest lead times for the MY20 e-Niro since launch. Customers who order a MY20 e-Niro now can expect to receive their car in September, in time for the new ‘70’ registration plate change.” Look at that — you can finally get a Kia e-Niro in a reasonable time frame. Given how much electric vehicles are sold via word of mouth, consider how many sales have been lost from not getting enough e-Niros produced to satisfy initial demand. Ugh.
“Additionally [the increased e-Niro supply] provides the 186-strong Kia dealer network the opportunity to display more demonstrator models, allowing customers to see and feel the car and enhance the buying process.” Hmm, that sounds important. Is it important to have cars available for potential customers to test drive? Chime in down in the comments if you have some insight on this.
Imagine if there were enough e-Niros produced to have 10 on every dealer lot. How many more people coming in to shop for a car would go for an e-Niro if a line of them welcomed the customers with a smile as they drove in?
It’s not just the e-Niro!
The e-Niro isn’t the only Kia EV getting more love now. The UK is also getting more Soul EVs. The Soul EV actually has the 3rd best range in its price range, according to recent tests done in Norway, only trailing the Tesla Model 3 Long Range (560 km/348 miles) and e-Niro (ahem). The e-Niro range came to 455 km (283 mi) and the Soul EV range came to 452 km (281 mi).
Is it just the UK?
What’s not clear from Kia’s press release is whether the same production capacity has remained the same and allocation volume has just been shifted more heavily to the UK or Kia has significantly increased the e-Niro’s and Soul EV’s production capacity. Without a doubt, consumer desire for the e-Niro has been much stronger than supply in many markets, so I presume (hope) production capacity has simply been expanded a great deal.
We’ll see soon how many of these electric vehicles are being sold in the hot UK market, which is at 9% plugin vehicle market share, as well as other hot markets in Europe. Europe as a whole is at 8% plugin vehicle market share this year, more than double the 3.6% market share of last year, 2019. The Kia electric models are popular pretty much everywhere they’re sold. In July, the e-Niro was the 6th best selling fully electric vehicle in Europe, and it was 8th for the first half of the year as a whole. With enough production capacity, how high can it (and its slightly higher ranked Kona EV cousin) go? How many vehicles a month can it sell?
Want to learn more? Want to look at pricing and packages? Check out the Kia UK website for more of these and other details.
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