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Kia electric cars delayed to 2021

The Kia E-Niro hatch was meant to be here in time for the 2020 Australian Open, but now the company’s first electric cars Down Under are at least a year away.
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Kia has temporarily pulled the plug on its electric car rollout in Australia.

After initially promising to have its first electric car on sale here by the end of this year – in time for the 2020 Australian Tennis Open – it has postponed its plans for at least 12 months.

The Kia E-Niro small SUV, which has a driving range of 452km on a single charge, was due to be the first electric model in Kia’s local showrooms closely followed by the Kia E-Soul city hatchback.

Even though both Kia electric cars are made in right-hand drive – and Kia has begun installing charging stations across its local dealer network – the battery-powered vehicles have had their handbrakes pulled due to overwhelming demand in overseas markets.

In the UK alone the first 12 months allocation of cars sold out in the first four weeks.

"We’ve gone as far as we are installing charge points into dealerships, and all dealerships are having technicians trained in servicing electric vehicles," said Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth.

"We want it to happen, we’re pushing very hard to make it go ahead (however) neither are confirmed,” he said, adding that the company was still “doing business programs for both".

Mr Hepworth said the E-Niro (pictured above and below) was going to be the “primary” electric car in local Kia showrooms but the E-Soul was now also on the consideration list depending on availability.

“The problem is the supply is so tight and we are so far down the food chain... because there’s no punitive government fines for not having electric vehicles (in Australia).”

Mr Hepworth said there was no form of gentleman’s agreement to separate the launch of Hyundai and Kia electric cars – even though both brands are part of the same company, they operate as competitors, he said.

“Hyundai and Kia are completely separate business units. We have different business plans,” said Mr Hepworth. “We have a completely different business plan than Hyundai. We only know what happens on our side. None of our cars come off the same line (as each other).”

Kia says the main bottleneck is that the supply of batteries cannot keep up with demanding Europe. When asked how long it would take to introduce its electric models in Australia, Mr Hepworth said: “I couldn’t honestly give you a timing on it. Initially we thought we’d have E-Niro for the 2020 Australian Open."

“If they gave us the go-ahead we would have them on the ground here as quickly as physically possible, but that’s unlikely to happen unfortunately in the next 12 months” even though, he said, Kia will have the “infrastructure in place to sell them... within a couple of months”.

Kia originally planned to sell only the E-Niro but is now considering the E-Soul (pictured above) alongside it – or as a replacement.

In Europe both the Kia E-Niro and Kia E-Soul are available with the same 150kW electric motor and 64kWh battery capacity with a maximum 450km of driving range. In Germany they both cost close to €35,000, or about $55,000 in Australia.