Two weeks ago, the Hyundai Motor Group said it would invest $87 billion to produce 23 EVs by 2025, with about half of them as new, dedicated electric models. Kia filled in some of the details yesterday when CEO Han-woo Park presented the brand’s EV plans for the next five years or so. Kia says it will offer 11 EVs by 2025.
Kia appears to be taking a market-by-market approach, in which EVs will make up about 20% of sales in key regions by 2025. The company plans to establish “Establish Mobility Hubs” in cities with stricter environmental regulations.
In the US, Kia’s current electric models are only offered in the 12 or so states that follow California emissions rules. The brand sold fewer than 2,000 units in the US in 2019. The second-generation Kia Soul EV with 243 miles of range was unveiled in late 2018, but will not be offered in the US until fall 2020.
In the past, Kia blamed a lack of battery supply and the need to focus on European emission standards. With its supply issues under control, Kia is now pushing to sell 500,000 EVs per year by 2026.
Kia is expected to launch its first dedicated EV model in 2021. It’s likely to be the all-electric Imagine, a segment-busting, small, four-door family sedan that rides high like an SUV.
Based on yesterday’s presentation in Seoul, Kia will offer both dedicated electric vehicles and “derivative EV models.” It currently sells pure battery-electric versions of the Soul and Niro. Kia is taking an all-of-the-above, multi-pronged approach to cover a range of specifications and prices. At the presentation for investors, Park said the company would “achieve EV sales innovation,” although details about what that innovation would be were not provided.
Electrification is one of two pillars of Kia’s somewhat nebulous strategy, dubbed “Plan S.” The plan calls for “leading the popularization of electric vehicles” and “expanding mobility services for electric and autonomous vehicles.”
“Plan S is a bold and enterprising roadmap for Kia’s future business transition, buttressed by the two pillars of electric vehicles and mobility solutions. Our approach is to put customers first, and Kia will reinvigorate its brand innovation by developing products and services that offer new experiences for customers.
“Kia Motors will transform itself into a ceaselessly innovative brand by accelerating its bold and preemptive transition to future businesses.”
At the meeting, Kia also announced that it will develop a “new brand system,” which the company says will be revealed later this year. As outlined yesterday, Kia said it will position itself as a “pioneer in the age of EVs.”
It’s 2020, and we’ve become accustomed to seeing corporate announcements about X number of EVs by 2025. Kia offers yet another one this week.
The target of 11 EVs in the next five years sounds promising. We also like hearing about dedicated models and new electric architectures. This echoes recent statements from Hyundai, Kia’s parent group. All signs point to about a dozen EVs from Kia by 2025, with half as conversions from gas-powered models and half as new dedicated electrics.
But the waiting game is tedious. The real measure of a company’s commitment to electric vehicles is not a new brand making dubious claims about being a “pioneer in EVs.” It’s putting massive numbers of zero-emission vehicles actually on the road.
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