Kia will launch a 576-hp GT variant of its EV6 battery-electric vehicle later this year, giving chase to the high-performance version of the Tesla Model Y. But that’s just one of the all-electric models the southern automaker -Korean will bring to the American market this decade.
In total, Kia plans to introduce eight new BEVs by 2029, according to its U.S. sales manager, with these products generating a significant share of its volume.
“Thirty percent of our sales will come from electric vehicles by the end of the decade, and we will reach 50 percent by the early 2030s,” said Eric Watson, vice president of sales and operations for Kia Motors America, at the trade publication Automotive News. .
Vague on the details
Kia already has two battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, in its US showrooms: the EV6 launched for the 2022 model year, and the Niro, a small crossover offered in hybrid, plug-in and all-electric packages. The Niro will be fully updated for 2023, with the BEV version offering improved range and performance.
While Kia has been vague on details, it has confirmed that one of the next all-electric models will be a production version of the EV9 concept revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November.
As with the brand’s conventional lineup, future BEVs will focus on crossovers, Watson said, noting, “We’re going to launch them (BEVs) in some of the most important segments.”
But Kia has also confirmed that it is developing two all-electric pickup trucks. While at least one of them should hit showrooms here, it’s not yet clear whether the two will come to the United States.
Not all models will reach US showrooms
There will be other BEVs that will not come to the United States. Kia has now confirmed plans to develop 14 all-electric models by 2027. This marks an acceleration of its electrification program, senior company executives have said. they were working on only 11 BEV a year ago.
The decision to accelerate the program reflects Kia’s success with the new EV6, as well as the outgoing version of the Niro. BEVs accounted for 6% of its volume through May, slightly ahead of the 5.4% share of the entire auto industry.
This is up from just 1% in 2019 and reflects a variety of factors, including increased consumer acceptance of electric drive technology, as well as the rapid rise in the number of all-electric models. Earlier this week, the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year, or NACTOY, jury announced that 19 BEVs are included among the 47 new or substantially updated products it will judge this year.
All shapes and sizes
“Over the next few years, we’re going to see a rapid doubling of electric vehicle sales to consumers,” predicts Watson, with the flood of new products “in all shapes and sizes” a key driver.
The production version of the EV9 will be a significant addition to the roster, among the first BEVs to offer three rows of seating. (Sister brand Hyundai plans to launch a similar product, the Ioniq 7, which was also unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last fall.)
“The EV9 will provide opportunities for those who need the size of the vehicle, whether it’s hauling the kids, going to Costco and loading up all your groceries on a big weekend, or towing the boat,” said Watson at Automotive News.
California will remain the epicenter of electric vehicles
Although BEV sales are clearly on the rise, Watson warned that demand will continue to be centered in coastal regions, California in particular.
“The reason we will have to wait until the early 2030s to reach 50% and beyond is to build the charging infrastructure, which will require public and private partnerships,” he said. . President Joe Biden, who has set a goal of 50% of BEV sales in the United States by 2030, hopes to revive demand in all regions of the country.
It plans to invest billions of dollars from last year’s infrastructure bill to help build a network of 500,000 US chargers by the end of the decade. It is also seeking to increase federal incentives for electric vehicle buyers, but that measure remains stalled in the US Congress.