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First Drive: 2017 Kia Niro

Hybrid performance with bigger car comfort and technology.

by on Feb.03, 2017

The 2017 Kia Niro boasts a slick 0.29 coefficient of drag, helping deliver an estimated 50 mpg,

A handful of carmakers have made half-hearted stabs at challenging Toyota’s leadership in the hybrid segment, but that appears to be changing with the arrival of the 2017 Kia Niro.

Kia, the ambitious South Korean carmaker, is intent on mounting a challenge to the iconic Toyota Prius on its home turf with a new a compact utility vehicle that offers a smooth-running hybrid system as well as appealing exterior styling and an interior calibrated to offer a generous amount of space for the driver, passengers and any of their assorted stuff.

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Under the tutelage of Peter Schreyer, the prolific head of advanced design for both Kia and Hyundai, its South Korean partner/rival, Kia has succeeded in bringing a succession of vehicles with distinctive styling and the new Niro fits in with the company’s growing reputation for well-designed vehicles. (more…)

Hyundai Aiming for #2 in Green Vehicle Market

Korean maker and partner Kia will launch 26 “eco” models by 2020.

by on May.25, 2016

The Hyundai Ioniq will be offered with hybrid, plug-in and EV versions.

Hyundai has big plans for the “eco” market, with the maker planning to introduce 26 new hybrid, plug-in, battery-electric and fuel-cell  vehicles between now and 2020, a blitz that begins with this year’s launch of the new Ioniq model.

The challenge, said the head of the Korean carmaker’s green car program, will be winning over motorists who’ve so far shown a reluctance to buy battery and hydrogen cars in large numbers. But, facing increasingly stringent emissions and mileage mandates, Hyundai – and its rivals – have no choice but to bring cleaner, more energy-efficient products to market, said executive Byung Ki Ahn.

Plug In!

“We’re making a serious effort to be the number two producer of EVs and fuel-cell vehicles,” said Ahn, the director of the Eco-Vehicle Performance Development Group for Hyundai and partner Kia. “I don’t think we can beat Toyota right away.”

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Hyundai Blitzing Market with 26 Green Machines

Korean maker aims to rival Toyota in alternative powertrain technology.

by on Apr.05, 2016

The Hyundai Ioniq makes its debut at the NY Auto Show. Hybrid, plug-in and EV versions will be offered.

When Hyundai pulled the wraps off its new Ioniq model last month, it offered three different alternative flavors: a conventional hybrid, a plug-in and a pure battery-electric version. But that’s just the beginning of the Korean carmaker’s green car push.

Within the next four years, Hyundai Motor Group – including both the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands – intends to flood the market with 26 green machines, including both battery and hydrogen-powered models.

Power Up!

The move is a risky one, especially in light of current, low gas prices that could stay depressed for several more years. But if Hyundai can pull it off, only Toyota would offer more models using alternative powertrain technology.

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Kia Crosses the Atlantic With New Niro

More hints of plug-in plans.

by on Mar.01, 2016

Kia will add a plug-in version of the Niro about a year after the debut of the hybrid model.

Kia is promising to deliver the best of both worlds as it gives European motorists a first look at the new Niro, a battery-based Prius fighter that made its first appearance at the Chicago Auto Show only a few weeks ago.

This time, the Korean carmaker is dropping a few more hints about future plans, however, and the Kia Niro Hybrid on display at the Geneva Motor Show will soon be joined in showrooms by a plug-in version.

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“The Kia Niro will offer buyers a compelling blend of crossover practicality with the cool, modern styling for which Kia is famous, and an efficient new hybrid powertrain to keep running costs down,” said Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe. “The Niro fills a gap in the market for a crossover with typically low hybrid emissions, and will appeal to a broad range of European buyers.”

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Trucks Rule at Chicago Auto Show – and Across the U.S.

Automakers race to add new products, more capacity.

by on Feb.12, 2016

The Chevrolet Trax is one of the newest utes from GM, and sales are outstripping supply.

Chevrolet faces the sort of challenge most automakers can only dream of. Its various pickup plants are operating at full, three-shift capacity and can’t build any more trucks. If anything, says marketing executive Sandor Piszar, that means the bowtie brand is losing possible sales.

“The toughest part is keeping up with demand,” said Piszar, during a conversation at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show’s media preview. “We’re running flat out at all our plants.”

Picking up on the Trends!

Actually, Chevy isn’t entirely unique. Hyundai is struggling to keep up with demand for utility vehicles like the Tucson, shifting capacity at its plant in Alabama to build more of the mid-range Santa Fe Sport. Ford, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan, with rare exception, every automaker TheDetroitBureau.com spoke with is laying out plans to boost truck capacity and, in many cases, add more truck models.

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Kia Promises Best of Both Worlds with New Niro Hybrid Crossover

Ground-up design; one of three battery models debuting in Chicago.

by on Feb.11, 2016

The 2017 Kia Niro boasts a slick 0.29 coefficient of drag, helping deliver an estimated 50 mpg,

What would Toyota do if it were starting from scratch, designing the Prius today? Would the world’s best-selling hybrid still have a relatively conventional five-door layout? Or might it follow current fashion?

That was the question Kia’s product development team apparently had to answer when they began working up their own dedicated hybrid-electric model. And in their case, they opted for a slick subcompact crossover-utility vehicle dubbed the Kia Niro.

Stay Plugged In!

First shown in concept form more than two years ago, the production Niro loses such fanciful touches as the scissor-style doors. But Kia didn’t take the easy out, simply stuffing a gas-electric driveline in an existing CUV model like the Sportage. Instead, the Korean carmaker opted for a ground-up development program designed, it claims, to strikes a balance between styling, utility, fuel-economy and that elusive fun-to-drive factor.

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Kia Niro Concept Hints at Possible Urban Hybrid Vehicle

Show car features electric all-wheel-drive system.

by on Feb.06, 2014

The Kia Niro Concept uses a new B-segment platform likely to soon show up in production.

While a teaser image of the new Kia Niro suggests the show car is capable of doing some serious off-roading, the Korean maker is really exploring the possibilities of a “cutting-edge urban hybrid vehicle.”

Making its debut at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, the prototype “hints at” something Kia clearly has under development, a small, high-mileage crossover that would target younger, environmentally minded buyers living in urban environments much like the Windy City.

The goal is to come up with something that has more attitude and a more fun-to-drive feel than the typically stodgy hybrids of today that seem focused only on maximizing mileage.

Fuel for Thought!

“Ten years ago people wanted understated style in the SUV market, but increasingly, as more people migrate to the B-segment, they are looking for strong character and individuality,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer at Kia’s Frankfurt, Germany-based Design Center Europe which developed the Niro concept.

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