Hyundai Ioniq Sales Are Low, Inventory Ramp-Up Is Slow, Kia Niro Is the One Making Dough

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
hyundai ioniq sales are low inventory ramp up is slow kia niro is the one making

Since arriving early this year, Hyundai Motor America has managed only a meager 4,881 sales of its Prius-fighting Ioniq. Hyundai is certain there are far more Ioniq sales that could occur, however, if only Hyundai had the Ioniqs to sell.

Supply isn’t just tight — the Ioniq Electric is essentially nonexistent at Hyundai’s showrooms in California, the only state where it’s (supposed to be) available.

Yet while Hyundai awaits greater Ioniq inventory, the lack of which is clearly to blame for the low volume to date, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Kia came out on top in this deal.

The Kia Niro is a crossover, albeit a low-slung front-wheel-drive crossover TTAC struggles to call a crossover, that’s selling 70-percent more often than the Hyundai.

It’s not as though Niros are plentiful on Kia dealer lots, but at least Kia dealers have Niros to sell. According to, there are 5,200 Niros in stock in Kia’s U.S. dealer network; only 1,700 Ioniqs. While the Ioniq majors on fuel economy — its EPA combined rating is a Prius-beating 58 miles per gallon — the Niro tops out at 50 mpg and in some versions rises only as high as 43 mpg.

But maximum fuel economy is clearly not the main source of appeal here. Americans want SUVs and crossovers, and the Niro’s black sills and crossover profile, despite the fact that it’s all pretense, caters to America’s desire.

It won’t help matters that the Ioniq offers little price advantage. The basic Ioniq Blue is a $22,200 car, undercutting the Niro by only $1,585. It’s becoming abundantly clear that Americans are very willing to pay many thousands more dollars for the privileges of utility vehicle ownership. $1,585? That’s nothing to 2017’s crossover buyer.

For the time being, however, we can’t accurately measure just how successful the Niro is compared with the Ioniq. “Our biggest problem with Ioniq is we don’t have enough of them,” Hyundai Motor America vice president for product planning Mike O’Brien tells Wards Auto. O’Brien says the Ioniq’s only problem is insufficient supply.

Most people who are buying Hyundai Ioniqs are, not surprisingly, trading in a Toyota Prius. O’Brien considers Prius owners to be happy, satisfied customers. But the Ioniq’s spec sheet (and less futuristic design) is winning over some of the Prius faithful. “I think the numbers are one of the biggest things that has helped us out.” O’Brien says. “It has caused people to take notice.”

As for the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Hyundai Motor America has none. And while O’Brien wants to meet existing demand — Hyundai is increasing monthly Ioniq EV production by 50 percent, Wards says — huge infrastructure hurdles remain.

“Everybody has taken the position that everybody has a wall socket in their house,” O’Brien says, “but obviously for a BEV that can take more than a day for many vehicles, sometimes two or three days. So it’s not a practical solution.”

Hyundai nevertheless plans “on being where the volume is going to be,” in the future. Doing so, of course, will require actually having cars in stock at dealers.

[Images: Hyundai, Kia Motors]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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2 of 19 comments
  • Shaker Shaker on Jul 29, 2017

    In the Matrix of the human mind, the Niro, despite its severe un-Jeepiness, exudes an SUV Vibe...

  • Mattwc1 Mattwc1 on Jul 29, 2017

    It looks loads better that the current gen Prius.The real problem with the Ioniq is the split window treatment. While it aids in fuel economy, is makes rear visibility difficult. (For reference, I have a used Insight (you know the failed attempt to see a cheaper Prius) as my commuter car. It shares the same profile/window treatment as the Prius and Ioniq. I'm used to it but my kids and wife hate backing up in it). The Niro uses the same drivetrain but has a more open and airy greenhouse and more usable interior space. The Niro also has a more conventional small CUV profile that is popular now. "Sitting@home" comment perfectly explains why the Kia will sell more than the Ioniq

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln in 1987 even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs. 1985 was the last year for the rear wheel drive Olds Delta 88 and rear wheel drive Buick Lesabre the rear wheel Caprice and Caprice Classic 3rd generation continued till 1990 when it was redesigned. B Body Buick Estate wagons continued thru 1990 as the Olds Custom Cruiser wagon and both were redesigned. GM held onto a few rear wheel drive full size cars but the Lincoln ad really brought home the similarly looking front wheel drive full size cars. Lincoln's ad was masterful.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.