According to Europa-COO Emilio Herrera, Kia is considering making a purely electric version of its Ceed model, as well as bringing another – as yet unnamed – new fully-electric model brought to market by 2021, and bumping up electrification through plug-in hybrids.
In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Herrera spoke of the PHEVs in the Ceed range, but also said, “We are also considering a full-electric version.” He explained the plug-in hybrid versions of the Ceed Sportswagon and the new XCeed presented at the beginning of September will go into production at Kia’s Zilina plant in Slovakia at the end of November and will be launched to market in January 2020. The Kia Niro PHEV (or Hyundai Ioniq PHEV) drive train will be used in both compact PHEVs. The biggest difference: Since the two Ceed derivatives have a lower standard consumption, provisional measurements show a purely electrical range of up to 60 kilometres. Kia continues to keep prices under lock and key.
Otherwise, Herrera confirmed a report from the beginning of August, according to which a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version of the Kia Sorento is also planned for the coming year. The ‘Imagine by Kia‘ concept car presented at this year’s Geneva Motor Show will also provide the basis for a new battery-electric model to be launched in 2021. Herrera refrained from providing further details. Two weeks ago it was also revealed that Kia was considering a purely electric version for its Picanto small car. “There’s no confirmation yet, but we’re really taking a look,” Herrera said.
Kia, like the rest of the car industry, is struggling to get closer to the European CO2 emission targets. The Korean company wants to achieve this explicitly by selling more battery-electric cars. In 2020 alone, Kia would have to sell 40,000 electric cars in Europe. For this year Herrera estimates electric sales at 16,000 vehicles in Europe with 12,000 e-Niro and 4,000 e-Soul.
When asked if the slight CO2 reduction enabled by PHEVs was worth the extra cost, Herrera replied, “The target is so stringent, that every little bit counts. Mild hybrids will help, the type of tires we use help. We even have contingency plans for next year [when the CO2 rules start to go into effect] to make sure we don’t miss the target.”
Kia’s ambitious sales plans for electric cars in Europe also include their production strategy. The carmaker’s only European plant to date is located in Zilina and has so far been limited to the production of the petrol and diesel models Ceed, Sportage, and Venga. Although the range is now being expanded to include PHEV variants, Kia is also considering producing fully electric cars in Europe in the future – among other things, to reduce delivery times. At the moment local customers have to be patient and, for example, have to cope with a waiting period of more than one year for the e-Niro – apparently due to battery supply problems.
Here, the interview also provided a little insight: When asked if battery supply is still a problem, the Kia Europa COO replied: “Yes, we can’t get enough of them.” But apparently, this is only problematic with Kia’s BEVs. Herrera explained that Kia hadn’t anticipated such a high demand for purely-electric cars and therefore didn’t order enough batteries from LG Chem and SK Innovation. He said this won’t be a problem with upcoming hybrids because Kia has reworked their battery-supply contracts for plug-ins.
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