The first reason is that the hybrid market is growing and we want a share of it. But as you know, all manufacturers have to lower average CO2 emissions to 95g/km or less in Europe by 2020-21, and electric and electrified vehicles will be essential to achieve this. We also have our own internal targets of a 25 per cent reduction in average corporate CO2 emissions, based on 2014 levels, by 2020.
It makes a statement of our intent to be a leading manufacturer in the production of low- or zero-emissions cars. Dedicated hybrids also avoid the compromises found in some hybrids based on existing models, such as loss of boot space and a reduced payload. The important thing was that our dedicated hybrid had to have the showroom appeal of any other Kia and reflect market tastes, hence our decision to create a crossover-style kind of car. We will have a hybrid based on an existing model later in the year when the Optima plug-in hybrid (PHEV) goes on sale.
We are very happy with the sales performance of our Soul EV, but the market and infrastructure are not advanced enough to support two all-electric models in our line-up at this stage, and we believe that advances in battery technology to further increase the range of all-electric cars will be needed before we can expect a widespread switch to them.But there will be a plug-in hybrid Niro for the 2017 model year.
We are expecting 1,600 sales in the remainder of 2016, and 2,500 in 2017 when the plug-in version has been added to the range. Around 60 per cent of sales will be to fleets. Our research suggests that buyers will primarily be shopping for a compact crossover with style, practicality and high technology content, but they will also be fully aware of and very interested in the benefits of hybrids.
Every Kia dealer will have at least one technician plus a Kia Master Technician trained in handling the high-voltage systems associated with electrified cars, so Niro will be sold at and can be serviced at any Kia dealership. Model-specific training is also provided at two-day courses to coincide with the launch of each Kia electric and hybrid vehicle.