Kia Motors has outlined its strategic shiftt towards electrification, following record sales of the brand’s electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe in the first quarter of 2020.
At the start of the year, Kia Motors announced ‘Plan S’, a new mid- to long-term strategy aimed at progressively establishing a leadership position in the future automotive industry, encompassing electrification and mobility services, as well as connectivity and autonomy. The Plan S strategy outlines Kia’s pre-emptive and enterprising ‘shift’ from a business system focused on internal combustion engine vehicles toward one centred on popularising EVs.
The EV focus is already achieving unprecedented results in Europe. In the first quarter of 2020, sales of new EVs grew by 75 percent compared with the first quarter of 2019, to 6,811 units. This meant that zero emission vehicles from Kia accounted for 6.0 percent of the company’s total European sales* during the first quarter of 2020, up from 2.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2019.
Product plan for an electric Europe
To achieve these goals, Kia plans to offer 11 EVs in 2025 globally, across a range of vehicle segments – including passenger vehicles, SUVs and MPVs.
The first of Kia’s next-generation EVs will be introduced to Europe in 2021, constructed on a unique platform specifically engineered to accommodate the car’s EV powertrain and technologies. Not only will it offer a crossover design which blurs the boundaries between passenger and sport utility vehicles, as well as a future-oriented user experience. It will also offer a single-charge driving range of over 500 kilometres, as well as sub-20-minute high-speed charging time.
Emilio Herrera, Chief Operating Officer for Kia Motors Europe, said: “Many of Kia’s new EVs will be offered in Europe, which is currently the focal point for EV sales growth worldwide. We are encouraged by the early sales success of our current generation of EVs, the new e-Niro and Soul EV, which have been well-received by buyers across the continent. In every one of the last five years, we have reported growing sales of Kia EVs, and our next-generation models will accelerate this trend further.”
Kia Motors Europe will launch many of the brand’s future global EVs following the introduction of the brand’s maiden dedicated zero-emissions model in 2021. Indeed, every new model line due to launch in Europe from now on will offer at least one variety of electrified (mild-hybrid, full-hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric) powertrain, as advanced powertrain technology forms an ever greater proportion of the brand’s European sales.
New user experiences for drivers
Following the launch of Kia’s maiden dedicated EV, Kia will introduce several additional zero-emission vehicles from 2022 onwards, with their own EV-specific designs and a new user experience designed to make them even easier to live with day-to-day.
Kia will offer many of its new vehicles with charging capabilities tailored to the needs and budgets of customers across a range of vehicle segments. Kia’s EVs will offer either 400V or 800V charging capacity, enabling fast or rapid charging depending on the different types of buyer for individual model lines.
Pablo Martinez Masip, Director Product Planning and Pricing for Kia Motors Europe, explained: “We want to provide European customers with the best possible value for their money, something that we are committed to with every new car. This means that certain models, particularly those aimed at more cost-conscious buyers, will offer 400V charging capability. 800V charging won’t simply be reserved for Kia’s flagship models, however, but where it most closely matches the usage profile of a particular model line.
“Both systems can be charged at home or in public, with 800V rapid charging enhancing usability in models driven by customers who may rely on high-voltage rapid charging more often or drive higher mileages. 400V charging, as already found in the award-winning e-Niro and Soul EV, also enables rapid charging and will remain relevant for many customers who have greater flexibility about where and when they recharge. We will cater for all needs.”
Growing sales targets
The brand's early move to popularise EVs ahead of many other manufacturers has laid the groundwork for the future under Plan S. Kia is targeting global annual sales of 500,000 EVs by 2026, and is aiming for more than 20 percent of its European sales to be fully-electric by this time.
Kia’s current line-up of EVs will be joined by a wide range of EVs to help the brand to achieve this aim, bolstered by accelerating momentum from European drivers keen to make the switch to electric power.