2021 Niro EV Launched

The what?, you, perhaps, wonder

By Gary S. Vasilash

When you think of an electric vehicle (EV), odds are that the first thing that comes to mind is something from Tesla.

Then, given the recent buzz, the forthcoming Ford F-150 Lightning.

Then after that maybe the Chevy Bolt EV.

And then any number of things, be it an Audi e-tron or a Porsche Taycan or something from a startup company that you’ve heard about (e.g., a Lucid Air).

K2021 Niro EV

How about the Niro EV?

(Quick: What is the name of the manufacturer who produces the Niro EV?)

The 2020 Niro EV was the number-one mass-market vehicle in the first J.D. Power Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study.

Number one.

The 2021 version is being launched.

The crossover from Kia has a starting MSRP of $39,090 and with its 64 kWh battery provides an estimated range of 239 miles.

It has a whole suite of standard driver assistance tech (from forward collision warning to smart cruise control with stop and go). Its got the goods, and then some.

And it is a functional compact crossover with 18.5 cubic feet behind the second row or 53 cubic feet with the second row folded. Usefulness meets technology at a very reasonable price.

Surprising how a competitive EV gets lost in the noise.

Kia and the Meaning of “Motors”

Kia, up until January 15, was officially known as “Kia Motors.” At least the “Motors” part of Kia Corporation was.

Now the company is just “Kia.” Which is pretty much what everyone calls it, anyway.

According to the company, by dropping the “Motors” there is an indication that it is “breaking away from its traditional manufacturing-driven business model.” I would have thought that were the company named “Kia Manufacturing” that could be the case. Somehow I don’t figure how the elimination of “Motors” means that the company “will expand into new and emerging business areas by creating innovative mobility products and services to improve customers’ daily lives.”

For one thing, aren’t the vehicles that Kia manufactures things that “improve customers’ daily lives”? Odds are, when you need to make a Costco run you’re not going to want to call an Uber.

Second, aren’t those “innovative mobility products” things that are going to need to be. . .manufactured?

While announcing the name change Kia execs stressed that the company is “focused on popularizing battery electric vehicles (BEVs)” and that it will introduce seven BEVs by 2027, encompassing various types of configurations.

In addition, it will develop what it calls “Purpose-Built Vehicles” for corporate customers that will be based on “skateboard” platforms. That term has pretty much come to mean BEV.

In one sense, it is perhaps not a good move to remove “Motors” from the name. While a Camry or an F-150 has an “engine” under its hood, a Tesla or a Taycan has a “motor” under its hood.

So a BEV-centric company might want the word “motor” associated with it.

But then there’s the “Lincoln Motor Company,” a name that Ford brought back to its luxury division in 2012 to help bring to mind a classy Lincoln of yore, not electric vehicles as it has none at this point. “Electrified”—a.k.a., hybrids—yes, but purely motor-driven, no.

And while GM has changed its logo, it has hung on to its “Motors.”

Kia’s New Badge

Kia is a company on the move, with hopes to have global sales of 2.92 million vehicles in 2021, up from the 2.61-million sales it had in 2020.

This will be bolstered by its brand transformation plan that is predicated on something called “Plan S,” a business strategy. The company is working to improve its profitability through flexible production operations in the regions it operates in.

For example, in the U.S. it produces the Telluride, Sorrento and K5 (previously known as the Optima), and in 2020, the Telluride (75,129) and Sorento (74,677) were its third and fourth overall best-selling vehicles in the market.

And there is something else that will certainly help.

Going from this logo:

Existing Kia logo. (Images: Kia)

To this:

New Kia logo.

Yes, that will certainly make a difference for a company whose vehicles are so design-forward.–gsv