Kia Niro Plus taxi launches line of purpose-built vehicles

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Kia has inaugurated a range of purpose-built vehicles that will grow to include cars aimed at a wide variety of business and private users. The first member of the line-up is the Niro Plus, an evolution the last-generation model designed largely for business drivers and taxi fleets.

Visually, the biggest changes between the consumer Niro and the Plus are found towards the back. The crossover's roof line is boxier and more van-like, the third side windows are consequently taller, and the hatch is more upright. New trim pieces reduce visual mass.

Two variants of the Niro Plus will be offered at launch. The first is aimed at drivers who need a car that suits both their work and leisure needs. Kia envisions that these motorists will use the Niro Plus to make deliveries during the week and to go camping on the weekend, for example. Buyers who select this version will be able to choose between an electric, a plug-in hybrid and a regular hybrid powertrain.

The second Plus was designed specifically for taxi drivers. Offered only as an EV, it's about 0.3 inches longer and around three inches taller than the standard last-generation Niro, and it's fitted with thinner seats as well as thinner door panels. These changes make the cabin more spacious. Kia also added what it calls an All-in-One Display developed to replace the various screens that taxi and ride-hailing drivers usually have on their dashboard. It displays the navigation system, an app-based taximeter and a digital tachograph, among other functions.

Kia expects that the purpose-built vehicle segment will grow significantly in the coming years, and it wants to lead the pack by 2030. To that end, it has started developing a platform specifically to underpin a range of models "of different shapes and sizes," including some that will be marketed as a viable alternative to public transportation and others that will double as an office on wheels. The first car built on this architecture will make its debut in 2025, and it will take the form of a mid-sized model. There's no word yet on whether we'll see it here.

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