When it comes to fuel economy, the all-new Kia Niro hybrid crossover — which began arriving at Kia dealerships in mid-March — has earned a special accolade — a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the lowest fuel consumption driving across America in a hybrid vehicle. Two drivers achieved the record by driving the Niro EX 5,979 kilometres — from Los Angeles to New York City — using only 4.1 tanks of gas. That’s a record-setting mark of 76.6 mpg (3.07 litres/100 km).
“The Niro is Kia’s first hybrid crossover,” Birchwood Kia West sales rep Dalton Laba says. “It comes loaded with standard features even in the base model.”
He mentions back-up camera, heated seats and seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity among some of the standard features. He also notes the available wireless phone charger.
Laba’s fellow sales rep, Frank Lopez Videla, notes that the Niro is powered by a high-efficiency 1.6-litre GDI engine and a smooth-transitioning dual-clutch automatic transmission that produces 104 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.
Lopez Videla also notes Kia’s Drivewise technology that is available with your new Niro. The package includes blind-spot detection and rear cross driving alert, autonomous emergency braking and smart parking assist systems, advanced cruise control, around view monitor and proactive support (lane change alert and speed limit information system).
The Niro is available in a choice of four trims — the FE, LX, EX and Touring.
Lopez Videla reports that the new Niro ranges in price from $30,000 to just more than $40,000.
Laba notes that there has been a lot of interest in the new model. “People appreciate the smooth, quiet drive,” he says. “This is a really good crossover option for Manitobans. It offers amazing fuel efficiency and features every option currently available in the industry.”
Women in automotive summit
On Jan. 29, about 100 women who work for the Birchwood Auto Group signed on for the auto group’s inaugural Women in Automotive Summit 2017. The culmination of the auto group’s Women’s Equality Week, the aim of the summit was to connect, educate and inspire the growing number of women employed by the Birchwood group to view the automotive industry as an impactful career choice.
Brandi Brydges, general manager of the Birchwood Collision Centre and a participant in the program, states she was attracted to the Birchwood group by the family atmosphere, the size of the company and the opportunities that the auto group offers its employees.
“The Birchwood Women in Automotive Summit was an important event for all women working for the Birchwood Group,” she says. “It gave us a chance to get to know one another. The biggest thing was the networking that took place — many new and renewed mentorship relationships resulted from the evening.”
The evening was spearheaded by MaryAnn Kempe, Birchwood chief human resources officer. Kempe joined Birchwood in 2015 following a career as an executive with MPI.
“I have always loved the auto industry and am excited to be part of the changing automotive landscape,” she says. “I grew up as the middle of 12 children in northwestern Ontario, helping my siblings with their cars. I came to work for the Birchwood Auto Group because of their amazing reputation and the opportunity to work with Steve Chipman, someone I admire and respect.”
At the summit, Kempe shared inspiring contributions women have made to the automotive industry. She also touched on the topics of traditional and “reverse” mentorship and how active mentorship relationships can benefit both participants, a program Birchwood is initiating.
Kempe then introduced the featured speaker — Kelly Williams, former NASCAR driver and the woman behind Kelly’s Garage.
Williams led the attendees through an interactive car care clinic, which covered safe vehicle maintenance in a fun, hands-on environment. She also showed a video showcasing her time spent driving and the determination required to succeed and advance in an otherwise male-dominated sport.
The event, Kempe notes, was sponsored by the Birchwood Women in Automotive Leadership group, which was founded in 2016 on International Women’s Day. Women in Automotive Leadership, or WIAL, is led by a committee with a focus on five key areas: access to key relationships with influential leaders within the Birchwood Group; inspirational role models; leadership development, networking opportunities; and an emphasis on recruiting more women into the auto industry.
The evening ended, Kempe says, with a networking event that included team members, general managers, directors and Birchwood executive members. The goal was to ensure that women meet the “right” people to include in their network and expand their sphere of influence.
Dealer of the week
Sales Rep: Ron Ackerman
Dealership: Crown Toyota
No. of Years: Eight
Favourite Model: Toyota Corolla
Why: "The Corolla is reliable and dependable," Ackerman says. "It's stylish and fun to drive."