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It may not look like it from its understated exterior design, but the Kia Niro is one of the most unique vehicles on dealer lots today. No, this isn’t just a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or an EV. It is all of those vehicles. The Kia Niro debuted in 2016 as an electrification-focused vehicle, and it is one of the only vehicles on the marketplace today that offers three different drivetrains to choose from; a hybrid, a PHEV, and a battery electric drivetrain. With all of these variants, why aren’t Kia Niro sales skyrocketing? Here is everything you need to know about why the Kia Niro might be in trouble, despite its slowing increasing sales numbers.

How has the Kia Niro evolved over the years?

According to Auto Evolution, the Niro got its start in 2016 for the 2017 model year after a debut at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show. From the start, Kia had one thing in mind for the Niro – efficiency. In December 2016, the Kia Niro, in its hybrid form, got around 76 mpg on a trip from Los Angeles to New York, a Guinness World Record at the time.

In 2019, the Kia Niro was redesigned, adding a new exterior design with a bolder, more “off-road ready” design. A larger 10.25-inch touchscreen and a premium sound system were also added as options. Despite these design changes, Kia smartly kept the same drivetrain as before, keeping the great fuel economy numbers of the previous model.

According to GoodCarBadCar, the Kia Niro is not running away in sales, at least not as much as you’d expect. In its initial model year, it sold 27,237 units. Not bad for a first year, but for a cheap vehicle that comes standard with a hybrid engine, you’d expect more sales to go over time. In 2020, sales fell to around 17,434 units, although sales did increase to 29,176 units in 2022, an all-time high for the Niro nameplate. So far in 2023, the Kia Niro has sold 22,437 units, and chances are, the Niro will likely sell around their 2022 number by the year’s end.

Why isn’t aren’t Kia Niro sales higher?

Currently, the Kia Niro is only selling better than two other Kia vehicles, the Kia Stinger and the Kia Rio, both discontinued. Yes, the only in-house competition that the Niro has been able to outsell are canceled vehicles that are going through inventory liquidation at dealerships. At this point, Kia seemed a little too slow to dip its toes in the EV marketplace with the Niro. Again, on paper, it seems like the Niro would be a smash hit with so many drivetrains available to fit consumer needs, but without a strong jump in any one direction, the Niro might have come across as a little too safe in the marketplace to garner attention.

The Kia EV6 on the other hand, is a wildly different type of vehicle to come from this South Korean company. With so much attention given to the Kia EV6 and the electrified future of the brand, there is a good chance that the Kia Niro might be fairly close to being discontinued. Kia has found that the EV marketplace rewards drastic design and earth-shattering performance. The Kia Niro might not be what the market needs right now.

Don’t count the Niro out just yet

If you are looking for a fantastic entry-level hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or EV, look no further than the Kia Niro. The Niro has been a vehicle that has received excellent ratings in all of its drivetrain formats. With a bold, brand-new redesign in 2021 and a low starting price of $33,840 MSRP, the Kia Niro is a fantastic option for anyone looking for solid, electrified transportation.

Combine the Niro with Kia’s industry-leading factory warranty, and you have a recipe for a fantastic little commuter that will last you for years to come. It might not throw you back in your seat like an EV6, but it’ll be a great little crossover to get you where you need to go with efficiency. While Kia Niro sales aren’t setting records, it’s still a solid choice.


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