The Kia Niro and Volvo XC40 SUVs will soldier on without their petrol-electric plug-in hybrid variants this year after their respective manufacturers determined that they were no longer required.
Kia sold three powertrain variants of its first-generation Niro SUV that was only on sale in Australia for about a year – a regular hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric.
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The second-gen model that landed last month is available only in hybrid and EV guise – no PHEV.
Similarly, as part of a 2023 model range update, Volvo has dropped the Recharge plug-in hybrid version of its top-selling XC40 SUV. The PHEV has only been on sale for about two years.
So why have these carmakers ditched these PHEVs when other brands seem to be adding them?
In the case of Volvo, it made sense for a number of reasons. The Recharge PHEV was joined by the fully electric dual-motor Recharge last year.
Given the enormous success of the EV, Volvo decided to introduce a single-motor version with the 2023 model year change, which brought the price of the Recharge EV down.
The single motor Recharge starts from $72,990 before on-road costs and the dual-motor XC40 is $76,990.
The price of the single motor isn’t too far off the PHEV which starts from $66,990, and given it was about to be updated too, it could well have increased to the point that they were lineball.
Volvo is reporting huge interest in the electric XC40 and is trying as best it can to keep up with demand given the current global supply chain issues. A company spokesperson said that it is becoming one of the brand’s most popular model variants in Australia.
Volvo wants transition to an electric-only carmaker by 2030 and recently took the bold step of quitting the European car lobby because its efforts to combat climate change were not aggressive enough, according to the Swedish marque.
However, Volvo is not abandoning PHEVs altogether. The XC60 and XC90 are both still offered as plug-ins, but expect to see them disappear too eventually as we edge closer to 2030.
Kia dropped the PHEV Niro for the new generation model “due to the low demand in the previous generation”, a Kia spokesperson said.
Sales figures show that the PHEV was by far the slowest-selling variant in the recently superseded Niro range. The hybrid was the most popular, making up 66 per cent of overall sales, while the EV captured 26 per cent. That left the PHEV with just eight percent of total Niro sales.
With the PHEV gone, that leaves Kia with no PHEV in its range. It still has the new Niro Hybrid and Electric, as well as the popular EV6, while a new large SUV based on the EV9 concept is expected in the coming years.
Kia Australia could re-introduce the Niro PHEV if the company changes its mind because it has been homologated for Australia and can be introduced in the future, according to the spokesperson.
Sister brand Hyundai has just discontinued the original Ioniq small eco-car range – not to be confused with other models like the Ioniq 5 and 6 – including the PHEV.
However, a number of premium brands including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover are committed to PHEVs, offering multiple versions across their respective ranges.
Mazda is set to launch its CX-60 plug-in hybrid before the end of this year, while Alfa Romeo is also lobbing its Tonale PHEV SUV. Jeep, Cupra, Peugeot, Citroen and Mini are other brands with plug-in plans, while Mitsubishi has been a pioneer with its Outlander – and now Eclipse Cross – models.