This has been said before, but it bears repeating: there are, in total, approximately twice as many automotive PR and marketing people in this world as there are automotive journalists. Those PR and marketing folks are always dreaming up ways to get attention.
Two major auto shows are opening in this part of the world this weekend: the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the Montreal International Auto Show. Media preview days were held in Detroit on Monday and Tuesday and in Montreal on Thursday.
A number of years ago now, some automakers started to jump the gun in Detroit, with receptions and auto introductions being held on Sunday afternoon and evening in advance of the first media preview day on Monday. Mercedes-Benz (their party at the Book-Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit was always a must-attend), General Motors and Nissan are three that went early. They did this to get internet and TV news coverage Sunday night and daily newspaper play Monday morning in advance of their competitors.
Other automakers didn’t throw parties but, instead, started sending out press releases well in advance. Kia Canada, though, really pushed the envelope this year. On Thursday, Jan. 10, a full week before the Montreal auto show’s media day, they held a reception for journalists and social media “influencers” right in downtown Montreal to unveil the 2020 Kia Forte5. They also introduced the 2020 Kia Soul as well as the Soul EV and the 2019 Kia Niro EV.
The Forte5, which, by the way, will not be available in the United States, will be on display in Montreal this week as well as at the upcoming Canadian International AutoShow, Feb. 15-24, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto. It is a sporty hatchback that has an optional GT performance upgrade. This lets drivers hit the throttle and be “sucked into their seat” when the optional 1.6L Turbo GTI kicks in.
Almost beside the Forte5 at that Thursday night reception was the all-new 2019 Kia Niro EV which the company calls the “green solution that single-car families have been waiting for.” The car has a range of 383 kilometres, the company says, and can get another 135 kms after only 30 minutes at a charging station.
I could hardly wait to ask director of marketing Michael Kopke about the wisdom of introducing a turbocharged “muscle car” at the same time as a save-the-planet EV.
“Different strokes for different folks,” Kopke said, once we’d found a quiet place to chat. “But ignore the gasoline versus electricity discussion for a moment and look at the market. We have cars, we have trucks and we have vans. We have small cars and big cars — everybody’s looking for something different.
“Every single market has a voice. The U.S. is a sedan market; the hatchback market always resonates in Canada, particularly in Quebec and that’s why we’re introducing the Forte 5 here in Montreal.”
Kopke said that consumers are hungry for alternative power sources, despite opposition from some governments in Canada and the United States. “The world is changing, from a climate change point of view.” he said.
“Every country or jurisdiction is approaching climate change differently. Regardless of what governments are doing or not doing about electric cars, customers are looking for them. Ontario pulled back their EV subsidy but we still sell them. Not to the same volume, but Kia is selling EVs. There are customers who want to be part of the forward movement. Consumer demand is slowly growing.”
Kopke said that when it comes to EVs, Kia is very proud of the Niro. “It’s a small crossover that seats five. You can get a baby carriage in the back, with all the groceries, and you can drive right past the gas station and never have to worry about that again.
“With the Niro EV, we’ve brought a real-world car for Canadians who think, ‘I have to go to work, come home, go to the grocery store, take the kids to basketball or hockey. I need a car that functions.’ The Niro functions – and then some.”
Let’s take a closer look at what Kia had on display:
The 2020 Forte5 will be in Kia showrooms across Canada next fall. The company calls it a combination of design, performance and practical functionality. “We’re confident that this new Kia Forte5 delivers on what Canadians want: a dynamic and sporty hatchback that is great to look at, fun to drive and is safe,” Kopke said.
Now, the press release that was distributed said that Kia’s Soul EV and Niro EV aren’t your run-of-the-mill electric vehicles — that they’re real-world electric vehicles that fuse functionality with practicality and provide consumers with cost-savings on fuel without the traditional range restrictions of fully electric cars.”
The 2019 Kia Niro EV will be on sale this spring and offer:
• An official EPA range of 385 kms;
• Regenerative braking technology that captures kinetic energy created by the vehicle’s brakes to recharge the car’s battery while driving;
• Ultra-fast charging attributable to the vehicle’s standard Combined Charging System (CCS) that provides a charge sufficient for approximately 135 km in 30 minutes using a 50kW charger or 193 km in 30 minutes using a 100kW charger.
The 2020 Kia Soul EV was designed for Canadians who love to jump in their car and go for a drive. Expected to arrive in Canada this summer, the vehicle will offer two trims — the EV Premium and EV Limited — and will offer cutting-edge features including:
• A standard electric motor boasting 134-horsepower and 291 ft.-lb. of torque;
• Regenerative braking technology;
• High-tech features including a 10.25” colour touchscreen with rear view monitor and parking guidance
The 2020 Kia Soul will be available in five trim levels and will be in showrooms in the first half of 2019. Special features include:
• The emotional visualization of sound including enhancements to the car’s available mood lighting system boasting 11 new ambiance settings and 3D pattern surfaces on the upper door panels, which synchronize to the beat of music playing in the vehicle;
• The new Soul will also offer an available 640-watt Harman Kardon audio system including an amplifier and 10 speakers and subwoofer that delivers music with twice the wattage of the current Soul.
Follow Wheels.ca on