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How Kia Australia can become the electric car value leader with e-Niro and EV6

Kia Australia will finally roll out its electric cars soon with the e-Niro and EV6.

Is the Kia e-Niro the electric vehicle (EV) Australia has been waiting for?

EV uptake in Australia has been slower than most countries, in large part due to the higher costs of these battery-powered vehicles as well as the dominance of the premium brands in the market, but the arrival of Kia’s electric models could be the catalyst for change – as long as the South Korean brand can price its e-Niro, and the EV6 that will follow, right.

As we recently looked into with the impending Hyundai Ioniq 5, getting the price and positioning correct is arguably the biggest challenge for Kia. The brand has made huge strides forward in recent years in terms of quality, brand perception and sales volume, but even with all that, it cannot afford to price itself out of the EV market by getting too close to the premium brands.

With the e-Niro set to arrive in late May or early June (after more than a year of delays), Kia is hoping to keep the price a surprise and didn’t want to give any hints when probed by CarsGuide. However, an examination of the e-Niro pricing in overseas markets, where it’s already established, gives us some clear indication.

In the right-hand-drive UK market, the e-Niro range starts at £32,195 for the version with the 39kWh battery, which converts to $57,419. The 64kWh version starts at £34,295, which works out to $61,168. Obviously, these converted prices are not directly applicable thanks to the various shipping costs and local taxes that will apply to Australian examples, as well as possible specification variations, but they do give a good indication of what to expect.

Especially when you consider that $61,168 is remarkably close to the $62,000 before on-road costs price tag Hyundai recently announced for the updated (and 64kWh battery only) Kona Electric.

Can Kia manage to undercut and upstage its sibling brand? It’s possible but not a given anymore, as Kia is no longer the ‘cheap and cheerful’ brand and goes toe-to-toe with Hyundai on price and value.

For example, the Santa Fe and Sorento ranges are very similar in price, with Hyundai having a price advantage on some variants while Kia has on others – so it’s not as simple as thinking that the e-Niro will be cheaper than the Kona Electric simply because it wears a Kia badge.

If the company can squeeze it in under the $62,000 asking price of the Kona, the e-Niro has the potential to be a value leader in the EV market. With a range of up to 450km, it easily has the cheaper MG ZS EV covered, as it only offers 263km between charges, so Kia could mount a strong argument that the e-Niro has better ‘bang for your buck’.

Then there’s the EV6, the brand’s striking new electric crossover based on the same ‘E-GMP’ platform as the Ioniq 5. It features the next generation in battery and electric motor technology, boasting a range of more than 500km, ultra-rapid 800-volt charging and performance that can beat a Lamborghini Urus in a drag race (at least the EV6 GT model).

While Kia Australia has confirmed the EV6 is definitely coming Down Under, it’s too early for the company to discuss any details. However, when we looked into Ioniq 5 pricing in South Korea there are likely to be plenty of similarities between the Hyundai and Kia models.

As we theorised, the Ioniq 5 single-motor, rear-wheel-drive variant could start as low as the mid-$60k range – undercutting the Tesla Model 3 and making the Ioniq 5 the best chance yet for a mainstream EV sales success.

Given Hyundai will get a headstart, with the Ioniq 5 due to go on sale locally in the third quarter of this year, Kia will need to sharpen the price of the EV6 to have any chance of competing.

That means the EV6 could start in the low-to-mid $60,000 region, and boast style and technology not found on any other Kia – even the e-Niro. Given the brand’s evolution and growth in recent years that could be just what Australia needs to jumpstart our EV uptake.