South Korean carmaker Kia says it will aim to sell one million electrified vehicles annually by 2026, half of which it aims to be all-electric, in a new $29 trillion won ($A36.26 billion) ‘Plan S’ strategy announced on Wednesday..
The “pre-emptive” shift to focus on electric vehicles will see the carmaker introduce 11 new electric vehicle (EV) models with the aim of reaching a 6.6% EV global market share by 2025. In developed markets, it is aiming for a 20% EV market share.
“As the auto industry undergoes turbulent changes, today is also an opportune time for Kia Motors to radically transform itself into a global enterprise dedicated to spearheading customer value-led innovations,” said company president and CEO Han-woo Park to shareholders and analysts at its Investor Day in Seoul.
“Kia Motors will actively innovate to take on the challenges ahead, identifying and capitalizing on new opportunities to propel the company forward.”
A dedicated electric model will be introduced in 2021 and will take the form of a crossover “which blurs the boundaries between passenger and sport utility vehicles”, and will have a driving range of more than 500km and charge in less than 20 minutes, says Kia.
Ten more electric versions of existing models including sedans, SUVs and MPVs will be launched starting 2022.
Kia notes that across these models there will be both 400V and 800V architecture, suggesting that the dedicated model will benefit from 800V ultra-fast charging technology.
“Plan S is a bold and enterprising roadmap for Kia’s future business transition, buttressed by the two pillars of electric vehicles and mobility solutions. Our approach is to put customers first, and Kia will reinvigorate its brand innovation by developing products and services that offer new experiences for customers,” said Park.
Hidden in Kia’s statement regarding the plan however is the note that the carmaker will “focus on expanding sales of internal combustion engine vehicles, while reviewing the selective entry of EVs depending on demand” in emerging markets.
Kia already makes all-electric versions of its Niro and Soul, and the e-Niro in particular has proven popular in markets such as the UK where a 3,000-strong waiting list prompted the carmaker to promise a ramp up of supply in coming months.
However, both vehicles’ introduction to Australia has been delayed, because of demand overseas and Kia’s desire to prioritise supply to countries that have fuel emissions regulations.
Unlike many countries overseas, Australia does not have fuel emissions standards and it has been noted many times that because of this it is at risk of becoming a “dumping ground” for older, less fuel efficient models leaving our fledgling electric vehicle market lagging behind the rest of the developed world.
Australia can hardly be considered an emerging market for Kia, however this delay suggests that for as long as Australia fails to implement fuel emissions standards, the new Kia electric models, like the e-Niro and e-Soul, may take longer to arrive on Australian shores.
Kia did not respond immediately for comment on what implications ‘Plan S’ may have for its electric vehicles in Australia.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.