South Korean carmaker Kia has executed the first move in its “Plan S”, unveiling on Tuesday the first electric vehicle, the EV6, to be built on a dedicated electric drivetrain platform.
Kia has also confirmed that this vehicle will be launched in Australia in the second half of 2021, with more details and pricing to come closer to a local launch.
An online event revealed a full range of details about the new vehicle, which is Kia’s counter to Hyundai’s recently unveiled Ioniq 5, including Kia’s approach to bringing more space, more time and more tech to drivers.
In the EV6, Kia promises both a standard-range version (58kWh pack) and long-range version (77.4kWh pack), as well as an EV6 GT-line (in both long-range and standard-range) and EV6 GT which is only available with the long-range battery pack.
All variants are available in either two-wheel or all-wheel drive and offer the same “vehicle-to-load” (V2L) functionality that Hyundai is also bringing in the Ioniq 5. In effect, this means an exterior plug that can provide power to campers, tradesmen, or homes should the need arise.
The two-wheel-drive long-range EV6 will offer a 510km driving range (WLTP), with up to 605Nm torque and acceleration from 0-100km/hr in 5.2 seconds. Power from the motors is 168kW for the 2WD and 239kW for the AWD.
The standard-range EV6 (range for which Kia doesn’t yet specify) accelerates from 0-100km/hr in 6.2 seconds, with the same 605Nm torque and 125kW power from the 2WD and 173kW from the AWD variant. (Final Australian specs will depend on local homologation.)
But it is the GT version that gets the most goodies and is the one that will excite the most. The GT version of the EV6 boasts acceleration from a standing start to 100km/hr in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 260km/hr, with maximum 430kW power output from its dual motors which get the benefit of electronic-Limited Slip Differential software.
Range is also unclear for this variant but is expected to also be 510km.
“The GT version of EV6 demonstrates our technological leadership through its combination of outstanding high-speed charging and acceleration performance like a super sports car. With our dedicated EV platform, there is no need for compromise between inspiring spaciousness and performance,” said Albert Biermann, president and head of the R&D division for Hyundai.
Like the Ioniq 5, the EV6 uses the South Korean E-GMP 800-volt architecture that enables 100km driving from 4.5 minutes of charging, or a 10-80% charge in just 18 minutes, and can utilise either 800-volt or 400-volt charging infrastructure.
Emergency power activated
The V2L technology which will utilise a J-1772 plug can allow a driver to power a 55-inch smart screen TV and a mid-sized air conditioner for 24 hours.
It’s new tech like this that promises to add extra usability for electric cars, taking them beyond that of simply a personal transport device and perhaps justifying the (currently) higher sticker price as a side effect.
Using a J-1772 adapter, the vehicle can then be used as an emergency power source – but whether or not this adapter will be supplied with the vehicle is yet to be decided, says Kia.
Space and user experience are becoming increasing considerations of carmakers who are embracing electric drivetrains, with a future where cars drive themselves, leaving occupants to spend more time doing other things, at front of mind.
“We’re attracted by the exterior of the car but we fall in love with the interior, where in reality we spend most of our time. And as more autonomous driving technologies are introduced, the more we will appreciate space,” said Kia VP for interior design Jochen Paesen.
Kia is approaching this in several ways, noting it’s not just about an expansive touchscreen (although it has added one of these also).
The EV6 takes advantage of the flat floor afforded by the simpler drivetrain, to open up the front centre console with a “floating” design for extra storage in the front. Although the EV6 has a 2.9 metre wheelbase, Kia says it has the same amount of space as a mid-large sized SUV.
Upholstery will come in a choice of “vegan” leather or flaxseed-cured real leather. Kia did not respond to questions about what the vegan leather is made of, or if it is biodegradable, although it did note 100 bottles worth of recycled plastics is used in the EV6 interior.
In terms of external design, the Kia EV6 writes its own story when compared to its counterpart, the Ioniq 6.
“We want to strike a balance between contrasting elements, the sportiness of a fastback, the compact stance of the hatch, and maybe even the raw strength of a rally car,” said Kia’s head of design Karim Habib during the online event.
Accompanying this is a new interpretation of the familiar Kia tiger-nose to a “tiger face” with sequential daytime runnings lights, which enhance the low air intake “mouth” and match the sleek lines that give it the appearance of a crouching tiger.
Visual design aside, technology will include Level 2 autonomous driving (Kia head of global product planning Ki Seok Ahn added that although the car is capable of semi-automated lane-changes, regulatory authorities prevent the carmaker from advertising it as Level 3).
Added to lane following, highway driving assist and smart parking (yes, auto-park and exit!) features, Kia hopes to make the entire driving experience simpler for drivers.
Energy systems are go
On the energy front, Kia says it has designed the EV6 to maximise energy use including a heat pump to scavenge waste heat and that also minimises range loss in cold weather (at minus 7 degrees it will still do the range possible at 25 degrees, Kia says).
Braking regeneration has three levels, plus coasting, “i-Pedal” and auto, while inside the car connectivity abounds including Kia’s innovative connected car system ‘Kia Connect’ (previously named UVO) is included, featuring a range of Kia real-time services and over-the-air (OTA) updates.
With more than 35% battery state of charge left, the EV6 will pull 1.6 tonnes, which means that added to the vehicle’s V2L function weekends are far from ruined.
Local pricing and a more exact launch date will be revealed in the coming weeks.
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.