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Hybrid, PHEV or full electric? 2022 Kia Niro running costs compared

Kia's Niro is available with three different powertrains, a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric.

Life wasn’t meant to be easy and fuel prices are doing their best to ensure that adage sticks long and hard.

The fuel hike comes as another kick in the teeth for motorists who have had two years of dwindling new-car supply, soaring used-car prices, poor parts supply, closed dealerships and all the other COVID-related holdups that have made staying a home a necessity, not a desire.

Compared with December 2021, owning a petrol car in March 2022 will now cost you about an extra $30 a month for a light car, and $60 a month more for a large 4WD. That is, according to RACV data, accessing the fuel bills of an MG3 Hatch and Nissan Patrol.

So why not just go electric?

For buyers with “range anxiety” - the term for being concerned about how far you can go on an electric charge between plug-in points - going the Full Monty with an EV may be daunting.

But there are alternatives. How about a hybrid - a car that has a petrol engine that gives countrywide range between petrol bowsers and yet some low-distance silent running for cities and carparks?

Or, there’s the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that has an extended electric range where no petrol is consumed, and yet has a perfectly adequate petrol engine for the long hauls.

You can plug it in (at home or from a charging station) to boost the battery - which is the point - although that’s not vital.

One of the few car brands with a choice of the three is Kia (another is Hyundai) which has the Niro SUV model available as an EV, PHEV and hybrid.

The three Kias are based on the same platform and body shell, have roughly the same level of comfort, convenience, features and safety gear, and are pleasantly roomy, well finished, good looking and with cavernous boot space.

In selecting which suits your needs best, the rough rule is that full EVs suit city and suburbs; PHEVs can handle longer urban journeys; and hybrids are the best of both worlds with a seamless transition from city to country.

But which will be the most economical to own and which uses the least amount of fuel/electricity?

Niro Hybrid - from $39,990 before on-road costs

This has a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor that both drive the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The electric motor works for some low-speed, low-distance driving such as carparks, when reversing, take-off from traffic lights (which actually gives quite a kick) and silently engages when the car is coasting, braking or when little or no accelerator pressure is detected.

Those tricks alone will save some bucks. Meanwhile, when coasting or braking, there is a regenerative system that helps charge up the battery so it can be used later.

Because it doesn’t rely much on the battery, it’s only a small 1.56kWh unit. That’s only enough for Kia to claim a fuel consumption average of 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

With a 45-litre fuel tank, that gives it a theoretical range of 1184km.

The smaller battery also maximises cargo space. Unlike the other two Niros, the Hybrid has a space-saver spare (the others don’t have any spare) and a boot space of 410 litres (rear seats up) and 1408L (rear seats folded). Compared with many hatchbacks, that’s a big area.

At 3.8L/100km, the Hybrid will cost 8.17c/km (based on a 91RON petrol price of $2.15/litre). At 12,000km a year, the fuel cost is $980.

Niro PHEV – from $46,590 before on-road costs

The PHEV has all the best features of the Hybrid mixed in with a longer electric range and the ability to drive on silent battery power – potentially enough for you to drive to work and home before charging up and without using any petrol.

The drivetrain is the same as the Hybrid with an identical 104kW/265Nm output and six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The battery is bigger with an 8.9kWh capacity that provides a claimed 58km of electric-only driving range, and although the weight of the car is up a bit, the fuel economy plummets to a claimed 1.3L/100km. That is, if you have to ever fuel it up.

That bigger battery bites into the cargo space, so there’s no room for a spare wheel (there’s a tyre repair kit) and the fuel tank is smaller at 43 litres.

The cargo space is 324L (rear seat up) and 1322L (rear seats down) which is still a large space and more than comparable with some petrol-engined rivals.

Charging up the PHEV can happen at home or at a public charger, and for the sake of this comparison, let’s call the cost of the former 20 cents per kWh and the latter 45c/kWh.

That means it will cost $1.78 to charge at home, and about $4 to juice up at a public station.

It is tricky to parse out the exact running cost of the Niro PHEV though, as the stated fuel economy figure also takes into account the charging of the car. But what if you forget? Or what if your commute means you never have to refuel the car?

We'll leave the number crunching to you then, as the cost of running the Niro PHEV will depend very much on the individuals use case.

Niro Electric – from $62,590 before on-road costs

The Electric has a single 150kW/395Nm electric motor driving the front wheels directly through a reduction gear. By comparison, the Hybrid and PHEV have 104kW/265Nm, so that should be indicative of the sprightliness of the Electric.

The battery is a 64kWh lithium-ion-polymer unit that Kia claims gives it a range of 455km. On test, it would hold a charge to about 450km and, along with regeneration, will easily last a week of busy motoring. In terms of range, it is one of the best on a price-per-charge basis on the market at the moment.

The charge time is anything from 5.5 hours with the home wall charger, down to one hour and 15 minutes with a 50kW public charger and obviously even faster with a 100kW charger.

Using a public charger at 45c per kWh, it would cost about $28.8 to fully recharge, while at home that figure drops to $12.8 (based on 20c/kWh).

Over a year of driving, the Niro Electric will set you back $760 when exclusively using public chargers, while at home the figure falls to $338.


The pure-electric Niro comes up trumps for avoiding the petrol station. But the elephant in the room is the Niro Electric’s high purchase price.

The price difference between the Hybrid and the Electric is a huge $22,600 and between the PHEV and Electric, it is $16,000. The difference can buy a lot of petrol.

Kia has a seven-year/unlimited distance warranty. It also has a seven-year capped-price service program (up to 105,000km) and if you are loyal to your Kia dealership for the annual service, Kia will renew the free roadside assistance program for the whole seven years.

Servicing schedules for all three Niros are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first.

Capped price servicing applies to the three Niro models at:

VariantCost for three years

Three year ownership costs inclusive of petrol/electricity*

Electric$2178 (home charging)/$3444 (public charging)

*petrol(at $2.15/litre), home EV charging (at 0.20c/kWh), public charging at (0.45c/kWh) and servicing at 12,000km/year


So, it is clear that the Electric is cheaper to maintain over three years than the Hybrid, but there is still large enough gulf between the two asking prices to make you think twice.

After all, $22,600 can buy you a lot of petrol, so keep that price difference in mind.

It's hard to draw a solid conclusion without concrete PHEV numbers, but depending on your use case, it could well and truly be the cheaper option.

Say for example you pick up the PHEV, and can commute to and from work on electric-only power, and only use the petrol engine on occasion for the weekend road trip.

Your electricity/petrol costs could be kept well under $500 a year, and the jump from Hybrid to PHEV model is only $6600, making the plug-in potential the best of both worlds.

Whichever works out cheaper for your use case, at least Kia offer a powertrain in its Niro that should suit most buyers.

Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist
GoAutoMedia Cars have been the corner stone to Neil’s passion, beginning at pre-school age, through school but then pushed sideways while he studied accounting. It was rekindled when he started contributing to magazines including Bushdriver and then when he started a motoring section in Perth’s The Western Mail. He was then appointed as a finance writer for the evening Daily News, supplemented by writing its motoring column. He moved to The Sunday Times as finance editor and after a nine-year term, finally drove back into motoring when in 1998 he was asked to rebrand and restyle the newspaper’s motoring section, expanding it over 12 years from a two-page section to a 36-page lift-out. In 2010 he was selected to join News Ltd’s national motoring group Carsguide and covered national and international events, launches, news conferences and Car of the Year awards until November 2014 when he moved into freelancing, working for GoAuto, The West Australian, Western 4WDriver magazine, Bauer Media and as an online content writer for one of Australia’s biggest car groups. He has involved himself in all aspects including motorsport where he has competed in everything from motocross to motorkhanas and rallies including Targa West and the ARC Forest Rally. He loves all facets of the car industry, from design, manufacture, testing, marketing and even business structures and believes cars are one of the few high-volume consumables to combine a very high degree of engineering enlivened with an even higher degree of emotion from its consumers.
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