Kia Motors Corp. is aiming to export up to 10,000 units of the soon-to-be-launched plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) version of its Niro small SUV this year, industry sources said Friday.
Kia, the No. 2 carmaker in South Korea, is scheduled to unveil the Niro plug-in hybrid in South Korea in April and debut the model in the United States and Europe during the second half of this year.
According to the sources, Kia has set a temporary export target of around 9,000 Niro PHEVs for this year, while expecting overseas shipments to rise up to 20,000 units next year.
"The eco-friendly Niro PHEV is highly competitive in terms of design, performance and fuel economy," a Kia official said. "The model is expected to draw much attention from overseas motorists."
Notably, Kia is said to be pinning high hopes on America, the second-largest car market in the world, after its Niro ad for this year's Super Bowl received rave reviews.
Kia has yet to disclose the powertrain and other specifications of the Niro PHEV.
The planned launch of the Niro PHEV comes after Kia registered strong sales of the Niro hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) that hit the market in April last year.
Kia exported 30,722 Niro HEVs for the past 10 months to January, with domestic sales reaching 19,683 units.
The Niro HEV is the automaker's first hybrid SUV model whose production is based on its own platform. Equipped with a 1.6 GDI engine, coupled with a 32 kW motor system and six-speed dual clutch transmission, the Niro can produce up to 141 horsepower and a maximum torque of 27 kg-meters with its fuel efficiency reaching 19.5 kmpl.
With its battery placed under the rear seats, the Niro has relatively large luggage space compared with other rival models. Its 2,700 mm-long wheelbase also expands leg room for the driver and passengers, according to Kia. (Yonhap)