South Korean car maker Kia reported a record quarter for electric and hybrid car sales in the first three months of 2020, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, growing its European electrified market share to 20% and recording a 20.8% increase globally for EVs.
Kia currently has two all-electric vehicles – the e-Niro crossover and e-Soul urban car – the latter of which recently bagged the “Urban Car of the Year” title from the 2020 World Car awards.
It also plans to release two new electrified cars in 2021, which will include a new all-electric model that falls between a sports utility vehicle and a crossover with more than 500km driving range that was announced in January alongside a $A36 billion plans to sell 1 million vehicles by 2026, as well as a Habaniro-inspired plug-in hybrid.
“The first three months of 2020 have been challenging for the whole industry due to social distancing and lockdown measures adopted across many European markets,” Emilio Herrera, COO for Kia in Europe, said in a statement.
“However, we have seen growing sales for Kia’s range of hybrid and electric cars – every electrified model line we sell in Europe has seen sales growth this quarter.”
All in all there will be 10 more electric models by 2022, says Kia. However, plans for bringing Kia’s current two models which are driving its success in overseas markets to Australia are still up in the air.
It is this popularity of Kia’s electric models overseas, as well as Australia’s lack of guiding vehicle emissions standards that is holding Australia back, says Kia Australia’s communications manager Kevin Hepworth.
“We are still working towards gaining head office support for an EV program in Australia, however there is the unchanged impediment of global demand versus supply with preference understandably being given to markets which reward EV engagement,” Hepworth tells The Driven.
Both the e-Niro and e-Soul were originally slated for an Australian release, but were later pulled by Kia Australia citing the Australian government’s failure to introduce legislation to reduce carbon emissions in vehicles – which prompted comment from the Electric Vehicle Council of the dire need for such change to ensure better EV choice for Australian drivers.
It has since ramped up production of RHD drive units of its e-Niro electric crossover – but primarily for UK customers, where the e-Niro proved so popular the South Korean car maker had a waiting line of some 3,000 orders. It is also sold in New Zealand.
Hepworth says the popularity of the e-Soul, which will only be boosted by its World Car award, is as yet assigned to the same fate in Australia.
“It was certainly good news for the Kia brand to be awarded the Global EV Car Of The Year with the Soul EV. While we have sought this vehicle in the past this will only increase demand for it in larger overseas markets, thus the accolade is something of a two-edged sword for Australia,” says Hepworth.
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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.