Update: ‘Kia electric vehicle strategy’ section updated.
In January 2021, Kia released individual teasers of several dedicated EVs it plans to introduce by 2027. The Kia EV6 that debuted in March 2021 and is now on sale was the first of the dedicated Kia electric car models. The Korean brand is working on at least six more such models, including SUVs and sedans, and has confirmed that these will be named ‘EV1’ to ‘EV9’.
4 of the confirmed dedicated Kia electric car models are crossover SUVs
In an announcement in September 2020, HMG released a shadowy teaser of the seven dedicated Kia electric cars it planned to launch by 2026. The picture (exposure heightened) hinted that no less than 4 out of the 7 next-gen Kia electric cars would be crossover SUVs. The three models on the left and the one model on the extreme-right have a high-positioned bonnet and a boxy body or roofline. Some models sport a flattish roofline or large windows, typical of high-riding vehicles.
On March 3, 2022, Kia President & CEO Ho Sung Song revealed that Kia will expand its EV lineup to 14 models by 2027 instead of the previously announced 11 models by 2026. The three new models will be a dedicated Kia electric pickup truck, a strategic Kia electric pickup truck, and an entry-level EV. The strategic electric pickup truck could be a conversion of an ICE model, and the same could be true for the entry-level EV. Regardless, now we know that the Kia EV lineup in 2027 will include at least eight dedicated EVs.
The first dedicated Kia electric car, the Kia EV6, is a new type of crossover. Derived from the Kia Imagine concept first seen at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, it fuses the solid proportions of a muscular SUV with a relatively simple body of a sedan.
The C-segment Kia EV6 with SUV styling rides on HMG’s Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). An 800-volt battery system, rapid-charging support, and a 3.5-second 0-100 km/h acceleration time make the Kia EV6 a highly aspirational vehicle and a new breed of Kia. It competes for market share with the VW ID.5 and Skoda Enyaq iV Coupe, offering a range of 310 miles (EPA-est.) and a high-speed charging time (10-80% SoC) of 18 minutes.
More electric SUVs are lined up this decade
Crossovers and SUVs have been in a rally globally, and their popularity will grow exponentially in the EV era. Two reasons support this expectation; the scenario now is that SUVs and EV technology help each other thrive.
EV technology is more suited to the SUV body style because of its potential to pack batteries on the floor without eating into cabin space (thanks to the added height of the vehicle) which would mean longer range and addressing the issue of range anxiety. On the other hand, SUVs, which have a reputation for low fuel economy and expensive service bills, would benefit from EV technology because of the far lower cost of running and maintenance.
A ‘hidden’ advantage is that the battery pack can be placed flat on the vehicle’s floor, which lowers the center of gravity (in principle), leading to an engaging driver experience. It’s no wonder that HMG is bullish on electric crossovers SUVs and has a full lineup in the pipeline.
Kia Soul-sized EV
One of the future dedicated EVs Kia teased in 2021 was what looked like a crossover that takes after the Soul EV. Karim Habib, Head of Kia Global Design, says it’s “a fun and practical commuter.”
The Kia “fun and practical commuter” features a silhouette very similar to the e-Soul, sporting the model’s distinctive C-pillar garnish. The ‘commuter’ would also signify the EV’s aspirations for the commercial segment.
The Kia EV9 Concept, which is a precursor to future Kia electric SUVs, was unveiled at the 2021 LA Auto Show. Its production version will hit the first market in 2023.
The EV9 draws inspiration from the ‘Bold for Nature’ aspect of Kia’s Opposites United design philosophy. The bonnet is sculpted and muscular, the Tiger nose facade is reinvented for the EV era, and the vertical LED DRLs and a sequential ‘welcome light’ reflect the playful and zero-emission nature of the bold electric SUV.
The profile of the Kia EV9 Concept underlines the sheer size of the SUV with an almost upright A-pillar, a triangular quarter glass on the D-pillar for the third-row, straight body panels, a floating roof with an integrated spoiler at the rear. The machined 22-inch alloy wheels complement the geometry created by a unique side design pattern. The rear section follows the minimalist approach, but the stylish vertical LED taillamps, and sporty silver skid plate on the bumper give it the typical SUV characteristics.
Interior made from sustainable materials
The EV9 is finished in sustainable materials for the most part, and the same process should be applied to the production Kia EVs in the future. The interiors have been made out of sustainable and ecological materials, including the flooring made from recycled fishnets, seat fabric out of recycled bottles and recycled wool fibers, and sustainable vegan leather has been used for the interiors.
Dedicated Kia electric cars get a new nomenclature
New trademark applications at the Korea Intellectual Property Office at the end of 2020 indicated that the dedicated Kia EVs scheduled for release between 2021 and 2027 could be given alphanumerical names. Kia had filed trademark applications for ‘Kia EK’, ‘Kia IK’ and ‘Kia EV’ name series, with a number between 1 to 9 at the suffix. The Kia EV name series in these trademark applications, for instance, is as follows:
- Kia EV1
- Kia EV2
- Kia EV3
- Kia EV4
- Kia EV5
- Kia EV6
- Kia EV7
- Kia EV8
- Kia EV9
“These (dedicated Kia EVs) will simply be named EV1 to EV9,” Habib said at the new Kia brand showcase event in January 2021. Hyundai also follows an alphanumerical nomenclature for dedicated EVs (Hyundai Ioniq) that use the E-GMP architecture. In the case of Hyundai, odd numbers are designated exclusively to crossovers.
Kia electric vehicle strategy
Kia is confident about the success of its EVs, targeting 1.2 million units in EV sales by 2030. The company aims to sell 160,000 EVs in 2022 and then 807,000 EVs in 2026 before reaching the ultimate goal. Some of the 14 Kia EV models on sale by 2027 will roll out of a U.S. factory. Kia says that mid-size SUVs and pickups are popular in America, and so it will produce the electric versions locally from 2024.
Out of the 14 EVs Kia plans to include in its global vehicle lineup by 2027, three will be cars. Eight models will be SUVs, and the three will be in the pickup truck/commercial vehicle segment. The product roadmap above suggests that the Kia electric pickup truck models will arrive in 2026.
One Kia electric pickup will be purposed for developed markets like the U.S., Canada, and western European countries, with the other going to emerging markets where Ford and Japanese brands dominate. The former will be a dedicated EV, and the latter probably riding on a modified ICE vehicle platform.
Kia expects partially electric cars and pure electric cars to contribute 24% and 9% to its American and Canadian sales this year. For 2030, the company expects the figures to grow significantly to 41% and 36%, respectively. In total, the share of green cars in Kia’s combined sales in these North American markets may increase from 14% to 77% in 2030.
Featured Image Source: Kia