► Rapid EV expansion set to start in 2023
► Plans include an entry-level EV and pick-ups
► Kia’s wider electrification plans outlined
Kia’s electrification strategy seems to be getting more aggressive with each passing month. At the beginning of 2021, the Korean brand announced it would launch seven new electric vehicles by 2027 – but the company has since revised that statement, claiming it will now expand its range of EVs to 14 models within the same time period.
To hit that target, Kia says it’ll launch at least two new electric vehicles every year between 2023 and 2027. We haven’t yet received a complete breakdown of each new model, but Kia has offered some rough guidelines. There’ll be 11 new electric cars, two new electric pick-up trucks (one of which will be aimed at emerging markets) and an entry-level EV.
This assault on the electric market will start with the EV9 large SUV (pictured above), which will occupy the top spot in the brand’s pecking order when it goes on sale next year. Kia says the SUV will measure five metres long and have a maximum range of around 330 miles, while the fastest variant will be able to sprint from 0–62mph in five seconds.
Sounds like Kia’s spoiling for a fight
Oh yes – the gloves are off now. Much like a Bond villain (or, indeed, a certain Russian dictator) Kia’s plans appear to be spiralling towards world domination. By the time 2030 rolls around, the company aims to be selling 1.2 million electric vehicles globally every year. That figure is also a 36 percent increase over the firm’s sales estimates from last year.
Europe will be a key driver for Kia’s EV sales. From 2025, the firm will also start producing small and mid-sized EVs in the region, as they’re the type of vehicles that appeal the most to buyers there. A similar attitude will be adopted for the United States, with Kia planning to build its mid-sized electric SUVs and pick-ups there from 2024.
Strangely, given the emphasis on its EVs, Kia will also increase sales of its electrically assisted combustion-engined vehicles. The idea is that the success of its electric technology will benefit the profile of its hybrid vehicles and push more drivers towards its showrooms.
Overall, Kia says it’ll increase its total annual sales to four million units per year by 2030. To put that into perspective, Toyota (which is a much larger company than Kia), is targeting an annual sales volume of 5.5 million units with the same timeframe – meaning Kia will soon be nipping at the heels of one of the biggest in the business.
What can we look forward to, then?
Quite a lot. Last year, Kia released a teaser image (below) showing seven new electric vehicles – amongst them was a Picanto-sized city car, a Ceed-sized hatchback, a smattering of SUVs and what looks to be a new performance coupe. However, the only model from these that we’ve received confirmation on so far is the EV9 SUV.
The new EVs destined for the C- and D-segments will be based on the Hyundai Group’s E-GMP underpinnings, which is currently found under the likes of the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5. That means Kia’s larger next-generation electric vehicles will also come with the same 800-volt electrical system as those cars, promising ultra-fast charging.
These underpinnings likely won’t be used in Kia’s smaller next-generation EVs, though, as the technology is too expensive and would price the models out of their own market. Kia’s European product planning chief, Martinez Masip, recently told us: ‘What we cannot do with this [E-GMP] platform is very small cars, A or B segment vehicles.’
Instead, the company’s smaller cars will be propped up by 400-volt electric systems that are similar in design to those found in the current-day e-Niro. The Niro’s electric architecture musters 356 volts, which should produce quick enough charging times considering these small EVs will mainly be confined to town and city driving.
The final part of Kia’s master plan is to become the world-leading manufacturer of PBVs by 2030. It’ll launch its first PBV in 2025 and expand on the marketplace with a range of specialised models built on a new, dedicated skateboard platform in the years that follow.
Read more about the E-GMP platform here
Hang fire. What on earth are PBVs?
Purpose Built Vehicles, apparently. They’re designed to suit the needs of very specific tasks, such as warehouse logistics, cargo hauling or personal transport. Kia’s first foray into the segment will be a specialised taxi aimed at the ride-hailing segment, called the Niro Plus. It’ll be based on the Niro and hit the market in three years time.
Kia’s new skateboard platform is where things get interesting, though. Basically, it’s a flat, flexible chassis, onto which different bodies can be bolted to suit a variety of tasks. Some of the ideas currently being kicked around by the brand include delivery vehicles, mobile offices and people-movers to replace traditional buses. Oh yes, and they’ll all drive autonomously.
Best electric cars on sale in the UK in 2022
This autonomous capability will also trickle down into Kia’s passenger cars. The EV9, for example, will be offered with a range of next-generation driver assistance functions when it hits the market in 2023 – and Kia plans to continually improve the technology over the next decade with over-the-air updates.
The tech has been given the overarching title of ‘AutoMode,’ and it’ll include a function called ‘Highway Driving Pilot’ which would allow Kia’s next-generation EVs to assume complete control of their acceleration, steering and brakes on certain motorway stretches without driver intervention. The future is most definitely here.
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