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AutoMobility LA Previews Continue

21 November 2019 Ian Fletcher Stephanie Brinley, MBA

Press previews at the 2019 AutoMobility LA convention and auto show this week have included several reveals of automakers' key electrified concept vehicles as well as traditional production vehicles. Here, we cover a sampling of debuts from the event.

Hyundai Ioniq, Kia Niro receive updates

The Hyundai Ioniq and the Kia Niro have been given mid-cycle updates, including an increase in the Ioniq's electric range to 170 miles, with the models being on display at AutoMobility LA in Los Angeles, California (United States). Hyundai's Ioniq and Kia's Niro are related products, although there is sufficient exterior design differentiation between them that Kia has pitched the Niro as a crossover utility vehicle, while the Ioniq is a compact car. Both are offered in all-electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid versions. Hyundai announced changes to all three versions of the Ioniq, while Kia only announced updates to the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. The updated Niro has new headlights, front grille, and taillights, as well as new wheel designs. The Niro's interior has a restyled 7-inch instrument cluster and an optional 10.25-inch centre stack display. The suite of driver assistance technologies has been expanded with lane following, lane keeping assist, and high beam assist features. However, the powertrain is unchanged. Although Kia has focused on the hybrid version at the event, the plug-in hybrid Niro has received all of the same changes. The 2020 model-year update arrives in the US market in early 2020. The updated Ioniq has new headlights, new taillights, and new lower bumper designs in front and rear; the EV version also has a new grille. The Ioniq also has the same technology updates as the Niro, including the upgraded centre stack screen option and additional driver assistance aids. The Ioniq also has updates to the EV powertrain, although the powertrains of the two hybrid versions are unchanged. The Ioniq EV now has a 100-kWh, 134-hp motor (up from the prior 88-kWh, 118-hp motor), a 38.3-kWh battery system (up from 28 kWh), and an increased range of 170 miles, from 124 miles. The Ioniq's charging time on a Level 1 charger is now 35 hours and 30 minutes, on a Level 2 charger is 6 hours and 5 minutes, and on a Level 3 charger of 100kW is 54 minutes to 80% charge and of 50 kW is 57 minutes to 80% charge. As with the Niro, there are no changes to the powertrain specifications of the Ioniq hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Significance: The changes to the Kia Niro and the Hyundai Ioniq are routine ones for mid-cycle updates. The vehicles are also benefiting from technology introduced elsewhere in the two automakers' ranges. Sales of the Niro reached 28,000 units in the US in 2018 and are forecast to be between 25,000 units and 28,000 units annually in coming years. The Ioniq is seeing its US sales improve in 2019, although they are forecasted to decline to 15,000 units in 2020, before increasing to around 18,000 units. Both models are forecasted to see a new generation launched in 2021.

Mini shows off John Cooper Works GP limited edition

Mini has revealed the production version of the limited edition John Cooper Works GP at the AutoMobility LA expo in Los Angeles (California, United States). According to a statement, it is based around the three-door hatchback architecture but features a larger roof spoiler with double wing contours and a new lip spoiler on the front apron which features larger cooling intakes. The body also benefits from wider wheel arches made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), which wrap new forged 18-inch wheels and upgraded brakes that feature 360mm vented discs at the front. The body has also been strengthened in various areas to create a stiffer dynamic platform for the unique suspension set-up. In terms of the powertrain, this variant uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine developing 306hp and 450Nm of torque, combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a mechanical limited slip differential. It is capable of accelerating to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds and on to a top-speed of 265km/h. The interior features only two sport seats and an aluminum cross-brace behind the seats. The automaker has said production will be limited to just 3,000 units.

Significance: Having been first shown as a concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show (Germany) around two years ago, this variant has now moved to production. Previously, the brand has said that this variant is intended to be "by far the fastest and most powerful Mini ever to be approved for use on the road" and it appears to have met this goal with relative ease. Mini has a history of launching "GP" limited edition variants, typically towards the end of the life of the three-door variant. This vehicle seems to be using some of the same strategies as the previous generations, most notably the rear seats being removed. As is to be expected with such a special vehicle, Mini has lifted the price by around 30% compared to the standard John Cooper Works variant; in the UK it will cost GBP33,895.

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