South Korean auto major Kia Motors has revealed its global EV strategy, under which the carmaker will launch seven ‘dedicated’ battery electric vehicles (BEV) by 2027, which are to be based on Kia’s Electric Global Modular Platform (e-GMP). The first among them, codenamed Kia CV, will debut in 2021. By ‘dedicated’ the brand does not refer to cars like the Kia Seltos EV or the Kia e-Soul which are conversions on ICE platforms.
The new announcement comes as part of Kia’s Plan S, under which it claimed to launch 11 EVs globally by 2025. Some of these EVs will be the electric variants of existing fossil-fuel-powered models. As Kia president and CEO, Ho-sung Song said, the automaker aims for BEVs to account for 25% of its total global sales by 2029.
Kia also claimed to have sold over 100,000 BEVs worldwide since the introduction of its first mass-produced BEV in 2011, the Kia Ray EV, a South Korean model. The carmaker’s volumes are derived from the Niro and Soul EVs.
Kia Motors India waiting for the right time to launch electric cars
While India has the potential to become one of the major global EV markets this decade, it is too early to say when the Korean automaker will bring its electric car models or the e-GMP architecture. Kia doesn’t see the EVs in India as an attractive proposition currently so we don’t see them making a move in this segment before 2023.
In an interview to BloombergQuint earlier this year, Kia Motors India’s Vice President and Head (sales and marketing), Manohar Bhat said that high cost of electric vehicles, poor charging infrastructure and range anxiety are a hindrance to the Indian customers at present, when it comes to buying EVs.
Kia has put 2 electric SUV models into service in India
The automaker has already revealed that it will focus on utility vehicles in India with no plans to introduce sedans or hatchbacks, so when charging infrastructure improves, battery prices fall further and the supply chain in India is reliable for EVs, Kia should bring in an electric SUV. In fact the company has deployed 2 electric SUVs in India – the Kia e-Niro for the Andhra Pradesh government and the Kia Soul EV which was presented at the Auto Expo and is available at the company’s experience centre in Gurugram for EV and brand enthusiasts to experience.
Kia Seltos EV to launch this year globally
Considering this strategy and the success of Seltos SUV in the Indian market with over 1 lakh units delivered, the Seltos EV looks like the best Kia electric car on paper. The Kia Seltos EV would ride on the same platform as the petrol-powered Seltos, but the entry-level e-SUV is currently only confirmed for China. Kia India would have to start localizing the battery, motor and power electronics to make the Seltos EV an affordable option.
A top-down strategy may be more effective as the Kia CV is a true technology demonstrator breaking new ground in design and features, offering 500 km range and a 20-minute charging time. Kia India could kick off its e-mobility ambition through a low-volume product to understand the expectations of EV adopters and the charging infra to develop before diving into the mass market segment.
Kia’s sister brand Hyundai launched its Kona EV in India last year, as a CKD, in limited locations which would soon reach its 500th customer. The company is working on an emerging market specialized platform for electric cars that would be made in India. The ‘Smart EV’ project is expected to come out around 2023 and the platform could be made available for Kia to introduce ‘no compromise’ electric vehicles for under Rs.10 lakh by mid-decade.