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Kia Has Best Ever September US Sales, Niro Models Lead Kia's Electrification Effort

Kia set another consecutive monthly sales record, its 14th, for year-over-year US sales. It was also Kia’s all-time best 3rd quarter for US sales, with a total of 210,341. SUVs, the Carnival minivan and the Niro are the primary sources of Kia’s growth.

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All of this is, once again, great news for Kia. In particular, Kia announced that its electric vehicle (EV) sales were also up a dramatic 127%. Kia currently only sells two EV models, the EV6 and the Niro EV (though that is about to change very soon as their EV9 will go on sale in the US before the end of the year). While both saw healthy increases in sales, it was really the less expensive Niro EV that is driving the surge in Kia’s EV sales. But wait you say, EV6 sales were up 45% year-over-year for the month of September, how could that not be significant? Well, I didn’t say that exactly, but my point is this: the EV6 is certainly selling better than it was in September last year, however its overall sales for the year to date are down by about 16%. Thus, the EV6 isn’t really a factor in their overall/big picture EV sales growth (other than for the month of September, in this case, in which it is a factor). I prefer the bigger picture view of this, and Kia’s focus on just the month of September allows them to gloss over the otherwise disappointing trend of lower EV6 sales overall. 

The Niro EV on the other hand is selling better. For the year to date, its sales are up… well let’s just say they are up. For some unfortunate reason Kia doesn’t (usually) release figures for the sales of their Niro EV distinct from the hybrid (HEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of the same vehicle. For all Niro models combined, US sales are up over 55% for year-to-date. Using my previously estimated 33% share of the total Niro model line sales this year, that would mean Kia has sold about 9,600 Niro EVs through the end of September (compared to the nearly 14,800 EV6’s for the same time period). That works out to something like 24,400 Kia EVs sold in the US so far this year. Assuming similar sales patterns for Q4, and factoring in a smallish number of EV9 sales that will add additional units to the Q4 stats, it seems reasonable to think Kia will be able to sell over 30,000 EVs in the US without much difficulty, maybe even well over that figure. Compare this to how many EVs Kia sold last year though, which I roughly estimate at about 29,000 in total, and perhaps you will share a little yawn with me. Kia will likely sell more EVs this year in the US than they did last year, and that is a good thing. However, the actual increase is likely to be somewhat underwhelming (at about a 3-5% increase). Of course underwhelming doesn’t make for good marketing, and I hope I am wrong, but as they say “we’ll see”.

The silver lining for Kia is that they have likely had a more dramatic increase in their US sales of electrified vehicles, which includes HEVs and PHEVs (that Kia also does not report sales of separately). Kia is more likely to pull off significant sales increases if we include these hybrids as well. A quick look at Sorento and Sportage sales for September and year-to-date, plus a quick update to my previous estimates of Kia’s electrified sales to date, suggests that Kia’s other electrified vehicles sales may have had at least modest gains, if not significant (since the Niro may not be solely responsible for year-over-year sales gains). Combined with the Niro’s increased sales, it just might add up to a more exciting announcement.

What do you think? Is Kia hype distracting? Would you value these monthly reports if they included more precise breakdowns of sales by trim and powertrain configuration? Does anything surprise you about Kia’s numbers? 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.

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