Kia confirms two new utes in electric model push

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Kia EV9 2021 front header

Kia confirms two new utes, sports cars, and regional development hubs as part of ambitious electrification plan.

Kia aims to sell 1.2 million electric vehicles globally in 2030, and is embarking on a ploy to drastically expand its EV line-up, usher in enhanced autonomous driving technology and introduce new digital revenue streams.

The targets build on those announced as part of the Korean brand’s ‘Plan S’ electrification strategy two years ago, and are broadly in line with ambitions laid out by sibling brand Hyundai. Kia’s overarching goal is to become a “global sustainable mobility leader”.

The brand has four primary targets for 2030: sell 1.2 million battery-electric vehicles, sell four million vehicles overall, roll out advanced connectivity and autonomous driving functionality to all models and become the leading provider of ‘purpose-built’ (ie produced at scale for a specific purpose) vehicles for third-party fleet operators.

kia presentation

The first of these purpose-built vehicles will be derived from an existing vehicles, including a larger Kia Niro Plus derivative it will launch later this year. After this first wave, Kia will introduce a new bespoke EV platform for PBVs in 2025, which will be fully scalable to suit different applications.

The overall sales target Kia is aiming for is up 27 per cent from a planned 3.15m sales in 2022. So-called ‘eco-friendly’ vehicles – by which Kia means EVs, PHEVs and full hybrids – will underpin this growth, rising from a 17 per cent sales share to some 52 per cent in 2030. In 2022, it plans to sell 160,000 pure-EVs, rising to 807,000 in 2026 and on to 1.2 million four years later – up 36 per cent on the previously envisioned 2030 target.

In markets where demand for these vehicles is particularly strong (it cites Korea, North America, Europe and China), it aims for electrified vehicles to account for 78 per cent of its global volume.

Kia’s pure-electric line-up will stand at 14 models come 2027, among which it will count two pick up utes and an entry-level BEV, presumably positioned as a zero-emission successor to today’s Kia Picanto city car.

Notably, the brand has confirmed that it plans for all future bespoke EVs to follow the Kia EV6 in gaining a GT-badged performance range-topper. It promises that these hot EVs will have “differentiated” designs from their standard counterparts.

Kia EV6 Australia 5

The production version of the large Kia EV9 SUV will come in 2023, with a 0-100km/h time of 5.0secs and a driving range of 540km.

The EV9 will be the first Kia model to come equipped with over-the-air update functionality and feature-on-demand (FoD) services, whereby customers can activate optional upgrades via the infotainment system in addition to the equipment fitted as standard. This will open up a significant new revenue stream for Kia, while boosting manufacturing efficiencies by allowing for more standardised equipment levels off the production line.

It will also pioneer Kia’s ‘AutoMode’ autonomous driving software, details of which remain under wraps. It is likely that this, like sibling brand Hyundai’s future autonomous models, will bring level 3 autonomy for hands-off driving on certain roads.

Korea will remain Kia’s “global hub for research, development, production and supply of EVs”, but it plans for other global facilities to take the lead for their respective regions.

A European hub, for example, will focus on the small and medium-sized EVs popular in that region, from 2025, while a US site will develop and build mid-sized SUVs and utes from 2024. It will introduce mid-sized EVs in China in 2023, and roll out “entry and mid-sized EVs” in India from 2025.

Like Hyundai, Kia plans to significantly boost its global EV battery production capacity, from 13GWh to 119GWh by 2030. These will come from its Indonesian battery joint venture and various other global battery companies, but it is yet to name any partners in this push.

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