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Kia Electric Vehicle Sales Still Sliding While Full Lineup Sales Keep Surging

Kia’s hot streak hit its 9th consecutive month in terms of US sales, with 68,205 units sold in April. However, despite it being another excellent sales month for Kia, their electric vehicle sales continued a negative trend with sales of the EV6 and the Niro both down, again.

Interestingly, all of Kia’s other models for sale in the US, except for the K5 sedan, were up modestly if not dramatically in April. So why are the EV6 and Niro (and the K5 last month) languishing? Let’s dive into Kia’s April sales announcement and their complete sales figures and see. First, perspective on Kia’s US sales: their total April 2023 sales volume was up more than 15% over April 2022 and 7 of their 12 models saw double, or even triple (the Carnival minivan is winning hearts and minds apparently) sales increases over the same month last year. That’s simply impressive no matter how you slice it. Also worth calling out is that KIa’s SUV’s were responsible for 71 percent of their total April sales volume and their electrified vehicle sales, totalling 11,798 units, were up 74% over the same period last year and up 22% over the previous monthly sales record for electrified vehicles (the month prior, March 2023). But notice those italics, electri-fied vehicle sales, which includes hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

Kia’s EV6, its most popular and acclaimed EV currently on sale in the US, saw its sales slide down 53% over April 2022’s figures at 1,241 vehicles sold. The EV6 was Kia’s biggest sales loser in fact, though at least it was slightly less bad than March’s decline of negative 69%. This means the EV6 was responsible for a little less than 11% of Kia’s total electrified sales. The Niro model line, which includes EV, HEV and PHEV models, was down only slightly over April 2022, at negative 1% or 2,999 units sold. That’s a decent improvement over the Niro’s sales figures from March of this year when they were down negative 31%. Since Kia doesn’t report the sales of each Niro model separately, I typically estimate the volume of EV models to be about 30% of the total Niros sold as Kia has previously suggested. That means Kia only sold about 2,141 EV models in April between its two EVs on sale, the EV6 and the Niro EV. This leaves 9,657 units of PHEVs and HEVs to make up the remainder of Kia’s stated total electrified sales for last month. Since we know about 2,100 of those were either the Niro HEV or PHEV model, that means about 7,557 Kia Sportage hybrids and Kia Sorento hybrids (of both types) were sold in the US last month, or about 64% of their total electrified sales from those two model lines. Add in the estimated number of Niro hybrids too and you get somewhere around 82% of Kia’s electrified sales coming from hybrids. Clearly, Kia isn’t trying to push its EVs or Kia is having trouble convincing buyers to purchase them. In fact, I’d wager that it is actually HEVs that make up the lion’s share of Kia’s electrified sales.

To finally address my question about Kia’s languishing EV sales, I’m going to repeat myself, and apologize for doing so. Kia seems to be prioritizing other markets as US federal subsidies for its EVs dried up, except for new EV leases which apparently aren’t yet enabling many new sales. Perhaps leases on its EVs, which create a loophole for shoppers to get the federal incentive applied to the lease of a Kia EV via a lower monthly payment, in theory, will begin to impact Kia’s monthly sales figures soon. We’ll have to wait and see on that, but otherwise Kia really only has a few options if they want to turn their slumping EV sales around: lower the prices on their EVs, move manufacturing and or assembly and sourcing of battery materials to the US or free trade partners (which Kia is actively doing), or perhaps introduce new models so compelling people will pay whatever it costs to get them. Kia may arguably be trying that last one too, with the introduction of the EV9 later this year. But ultimately, only the first option would be likely to turn things around for their EV sales in the short term. The leasing loophole may do just that, so stay tuned for more monthly sales reports to find out.

Images courtesy of Kia.

Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.