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The Kia EV3 Compact SUV Is Coming, But The US Won't Get It This Year

The Kia EV3 will launch later this year in markets outside the US, specifically in Korea this summer followed by Europe later this year. But is it safe to assume that US drivers will be able to purchase this affordable compact electric SUV too?

In short I think the answer is probably yes, and that opportunity would likely come sometime next year. However, before we assume that will be the case, let’s first look at why it might not be coming to the US at all. Kia has not confirmed, yet, that the US is one of the “other regions” it plans to sell the EV3 in. Thus it is possible that the US will not get the EV3. 

The EV3 is in the same class as Kia’s gasoline powered Seltos SUV (which will be electrified with a hybrid option soon) and is also similar in size to Kia’s electrified Niro crossover (which also has hybrid and fully electric versions). The EV3 would directly overlap with the Niro EV, and the Niro EV is Kia’s best selling electric model. Why would Kia potentially hurt its Niro sales with a new EV that directly competes with it? 

While the Niro is a crossover and styled something like a boxy hatchback, the EV3 looks like a diminutive EV9 and if not in function per se, clearly looks the part of a more rugged SUV. So far the EV3 has not been described as having an AWD option and its ground clearance appears to be similar to the Niro’s from photos. Thus it is easy to see the Niro EV and EV3 as models that could split buyers. 

If Kia opts to bring only an AWD version of the EV3 to the US though, perhaps that feature alone would differentiate the two (though it would still likely hurt Niro EV sales). Or perhaps Kia will ultimately focus Niro production and sales in the US on its hybrid (HEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, and pull the Niro EV from its product line. This would eliminate overlap while still giving consumers options for all three powertrain options.

On the other side of the coin, Kia knows cost is hindering EV sales and has stressed that the EV3 is to be an affordable EV. Also, over 20% of Kia’s US sales last year were of compact SUV and crossover type vehicles (specifically the combined sales of the Seltos, Niro and Soul). These are reasons Kia will most likely bring the EV3 to the US. Figuring out how to make room in its lineup is not that big of a problem. What would be a big problem though is Kia not offering more competitively priced EVs in the face of competition from the likes of GM (in the form of the forthcoming Equinox EV LT and Bolt EV) among others. Simply put, Kia can’t afford to cede the $35,000 and lower market segment to other car makers, not if it wants to grow its share of the EV market.

Finally, let’s go over some of the specs Kia gave us last week about the EV3 since Kia offered up several juicy new details. The EV3 is estimated to have up to about 330 miles of range (if one opts for the larger of two batteries: 58.3 and 81.4 kWh). Kia claims it has the largest luggage space in its class (at over 16 cubic feet in the rear). It measures a little over 169 inches long, almost 73 inches wide, and almost 61.5 inches high (which means it is slightly shorter in length and height, but a little wider than either the current Seltos or Niro, and a little bigger in every dimension than the Soul). It will have a 150 kW motor powering the front wheels and a 0-60 time a little over 7 seconds while seating five “comfortably” (and I would guess an AWD option, eventually, which also might increase its acceleration time). It will offer advanced safety and convenience features, some of which will debut in the EV3 and include Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) capability as well. The EV3’s range, cargo space, interior volume, safety features and practicality will be extremely appealing to shoppers everywhere.

Are you interested in this new EV or more affordably priced compact sized SUVs and crossovers in general? Would the EV3 be more interesting to you than other similarly sized vehicles from Kia or other brands? Which models, brands and why? Please leave your questions and comments below.

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 Torque News Kia or X for regular electric and hybrid news coverage.