Kia to introduce subscription-style micro EV

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kia city ev car

Kia’s now-confirmed entry-level EV could be the affordable city car hinted at by bosses in 2020.

Kia has revealed plans to launch 14 new electric cars by 2027, including an affordable, entry-level EV. Such a car was hinted at in May 2020, when we spoke with Emilio Herrera, the then-chief operating officer of Kia Motors Europe. In late 2021, Kia also released a teaser image of some future EVs that suggests the potential compact EV is still in the works.

Herrera noted in 2020 that cars like the Citroen Ami have the ability to change the way people commute in and around towns and cities – particularly European cities such as London, Paris or Berlin. We wouldn’t hold our breath on such a car being a priority for Australia given a short driving range, but such vehicles have a place in congested city situations and the way it is purchased is part of changing ideas on car ownership.

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“Our project is looking at what we call L6 and L7 cars in the segment,” he said. “Cars like the Citroen Ami; it’s something we’re investigating, because we believe it could be an alternative for public transportation – provided we can deliver it at a very similar cost to public transportation.”

“We’re really looking at very low monthly prices for subscriptions so it can really compete – and the Ami is one of the vehicles that we’ve looked at,” Herrera said.

“So that means a subscription model, or you can rent it for a week or month, so it needs to be pretty flexible like public transportation.” Shortly after the Ami’s debut in February 2020, according to Herrera, Kia was “already studying a proposal on having very small micro vehicles for urban use” in May.

Citroen My Ami Cargo 5

Herrera wouldn’t be drawn on what platform would be used for the small Kia, but he was clear that he expected Kia to lead the development of a new platform for its new small car, saying: “We could eventually share the platform with Hyundai, but the idea is to have a dedicated platform from Kia that we could eventually share with Hyundai. The idea with this project is for it to be global, not just for Europe. It will have the synergies of scale to ensure that this vehicle would be available at a very cheap price for consumers.”

Since speaking with Herrera, we’ve learned that Kia is developing a dedicated ‘skateboard’ EV platform that’ll underpin a variety of electric commercial vehicles. Eventually, Kia plans to create what it calls micro PBVs (Purpose-Built Vehicles), which it intends to be “an alternative to public transportation”. We therefore expect the as-yet-unnamed Ami rival and these urban delivery vehicles to have a lot in common under the metal.

Plus, it has been confirmed that Kia’s parent the Hyundai Motor Group is being supplied with a new integrated electric drive module – combining an electric motor and transmission into one bolt-in unit – by electric drivetrain partner BorgWarner.

We know this new setup will be used in a city-car-sized electric SUV that the Hyundai group is working on, but a setup like this saves space and weight compared to a more conventional electric drivetrain, which are essential factors to consider when designing a car with such compact proportions. It therefore has the potential to be used in Kia’s electric quadricycle.

Ellis Hyde

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