Kia makes an adorable electric micro-camper out of the Niro Plus
Kia is on a mission to become a global purpose-built vehicle (PBV) leader, and the Niro Plus is one of the first pieces of the plan. It focused heavily on commercial car-hailing services when it announced the new domestic model in April, but it also mentioned a consumer version with some recreational potential. This month, it takes a closer look at that recreational side, showing how the Niro Plus turns into a 244-mile zero-emissions micro-adventure shuttle, electric base camp and mobile office. Whether used for a quick picnic or extended camping trip, the electric crossover-camper cleanly and seamlessly bridges the gap between city and wilderness.
The Niro Plus is something of a stopgap in Kia's grander PBV scheme, which ultimately calls for a dedicated electric skateboard platform underpinning futuristic, potentially outlandish vehicles with self-driving capabilities. As previewed at CES 2020, Hyundai Group imagines these PBVs centralizing into urban mobility hubs that connect intercity urban air mobility (UAM) solutions with intracity transportation.
The Niro Plus is a much more grounded, here-and-now iteration of PBV, an update of the first-generation Niro. A 0.4-in (10-mm) length and 3-in (80-mm) height boost, coupled with a slimmed-down interior structure, increase cabin space and give the model its "Plus" credentials. This makes the Plus variant a natural at better accommodating people, cargo, and camping gear.
Kia illustrates the Niro Plus' outdoorsy capabilities against a backdrop example of city dwellers escaping into the forest for a picnic. It effectively erases the divide between outdoors and in by making the Niro Plus an extension of the picnic space, folding the rear seats down and topping the extended floor with an available leveling board, air mattress and blanket. The outdoor space includes a set of folding chairs, a small roll-top table, a cooler, a picnic basket and a lantern for rustic mood lighting.
Kia takes advantage of the Niro Plus' 64-kWh battery pack's vehicle-to-load (V2L) capability for plugging in a laptop, perhaps to check in with work while on an extended lunch break. An integrated slot in the sidewall secures an accessory table that holds snacks and drinks inside the cabin.
While Kia limits its example to a daytime picnic, the Niro Plus-fit air mattress it offers as an accessory just as readily turns the crossover into a simple overnight camper. The small side table creates a mini dinette, with the mattress serving as seating. And of course, the V2L capability can power handy camping gear and appliances. Kia also offers the folding chairs, table and a few other outdoorsy accessories, such as a camping storage cube.
The 173-inch-long (439-cm) Niro Plus is a Korean-market model for now, so, much like other impressive Kia tiny campers, the accessorized Niro Plus electric micro-camper is not available elsewhere. The base crossover starts at ₩44,200,000 (approx. US$33,950) after tax incentives and comes powered by a 201-hp (150-kW) electric motor that drives up to 244 miles (392 km) of combined city/highway range. Kia plans to launch the Niro Plus in select overseas markets later this year, where it will offer hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains alongside the EV.
Source: Kia (Korean)
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Now had it had a tent mated to the rear or something, but this is some things people have lying around the house. That table is useless and should have been much larger folding out the rear.