Some exciting news to report in the Kia world, as we have learned that the new Kia Niro hybrid / plug-in hybrid will be offered as an AWD model.

It should be noted that this is not the AWD system that you might be used to, but rather the electric 4WD system that has been developed by Hyundai Wia, a South Korean automotive parts maker tied to the Hyundai-Kia group.

Kia Niro e-4WD system

In a standard 4WD system, you need a shaft and a transfer case to send power to the rear wheels, which results in a reduction of interior luggage space, as well as poorer fuel efficiency.

The E-4WD system uses an electric motor mounted between the rear wheels to deliver that power.

The positioning and size of this unit means that more cargo space is freed up inside, and improves fuel efficiency and leg room.

What is e-4WD and how it works


The electric 4WD systems are relatively new technology, and currently only seen in a small number of vehicles.

The automakers that do use this system usually do so in hybrid plug-in models.

Some of the vehicles you will find E-4WD in include the Volvo XC90 plug-in, BMW i8, Lexus RX hybrid, and Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV.

As plug-in hybrid models become more common, so will this system.

To be used in a range of Kia, Hyundai vehicles

Don’t expect the use of the e-4WD system in the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid to be the last time that we see the Koreans use it, as it will almost certainly show up in other Hyundai and Kia models.

It would make sense for the Kia Sportage and the Sorento SUV’s to start using the system, and it may also end up in the next-generation Soul crossover vehicle.

After all, the Soul Trail’ster concept vehicle from last year had this system fitted.