Kia just presented the series EV6 electric car in an online event for press. The brand’s first dedicated electric car shares a platform with Hyundai’s Ioniq5 but is positioned to pose a “turning point” for the brand, as Kia President and CEO Ho-sung Song put it.
Said swerve becomes more clear once you consider Kia a “mainstream brand,” as Artur Martins, Head of Global Brand & Customer Experience Division summarised their standing. While they want to stay this way, the EV6 also positions them in a more progressive EV market that President Song considers highly competitive.
Accordingly, the EV6 is unusually sportive for the Korean carmaker, not cute or boxy like early EVs, such as the Soul EV or the more recent Niro EV. Both models shared the design with combustion engine counterparts, whereas the EV6 uses the Group’s E-GMP architecture made for pure electric models. It also hails a new era at Kia, which plans seven EVs on the platform of which the EV6 is the first. “We don’t want to be a premium brand, but this car has to be the representative for the brand we want to build, and so it had to carry all the elements,” Martins explained at the press talk.
Some of those elements had been shown before. The design briefs earlier in March revealed a car that moved away not just from Kia’s mainstream positioning in presentation but also visibly did away with its typical tiger nose. They have now made it into what Kia calls a “digital tiger face” made to change to express different segments the Korean company wants to address with EVs. We will return to questions of positions in a bit but first to the specifications.
While sharing the E-GMP platform with Hyundai’s Ioniq5, Kia says they designed the EV6 with range and performance in mind. The CEO was aware that “Performance and driving range is a trade-off in EV,” yet Kia specifies 510 kilometres in the long-range version first on display and with a battery of 77.4 kWh; standard range has a battery of 58 kWh. The other trims in line are the GT variant. The GT model with 585 hp would get 400 kilometres of driving range. Kia further specifies a maximum 740Nm torque, and the AWD GT version accelerates from 0-to-100 kph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 260 kph. As with the Hyundai sister model, the 800 Volt platform enables charging to 80% in 18 minutes or another 100 km with less than 2.5 minutes of charge when pairing 2WD with the 77.4-kWh battery option.
Cue in the Hyundai Ioniq 5. “We wanted to highlight the character of aerodynamic for the efficiency as well as performance and that differentiates the most from Ioniq 5,” Karim Habib, Head of Global Design Center, added. Indeed it is the performance idea that perhaps surprises the most in the Kia EV. The brand specifies a 0 -100 acceleration of 3.5 seconds for the EV6 GT.
Fayez Rahman, Head of Vehicle Architecture Development Center, was also in line with the design brief when he said, “Our focus was always the premium and luxury segment.” His marketing counterpart Artur Martins later strengthened the idea. On the GT, he said, it was an important element of Kia’s new position. “We have products in the portfolio that have a little bit more character and driving experience.” The Sales and Marketing executive added that brand heritage was no longer something that people demanded and called it a “gigantic opportunity”.
Kia actually has a heritage in electric cars, only quite different ones. The Kia Soul EV was early in the market, followed by the Kia Niro. Both cars, however, spoke of a more utilitarian approach, and Kia now wants the EV6 to address “early adopters and more excited consumers” who are looking for “not only practical products but engineering capability and performance,” Martin suggests.
At the same time, Kia appears to want the EV6 to be a bit of everything. The Executive struggled to place it into one segment (or to name the others clearly). His design chief, Karim Habib, managed to fill in the gaps pointing to the new design directive ‘Opposites United’. He combined buzzwords such as consistency and flexibility with power and performance, aerodynamics with roominess when presenting the car.
The new architecture allows for a flat floor without the tunnel, also because Kia opted for a “rear-wheel drive as standard,” as Fayez Rahman, Head of Vehicle Architecture Development Center, explained. There are, however, AWD versions that will become available.
Habib, too praised the “Proportions the new architecture allows us to create – in this case a long wheelbase with a rather compact and sporty design.” The wheelbase measure 2.9 metres. The standard EV6 in Europe then comes with 4680 x 1880 and 1550. The GT line and GT are only slightly longer at 4695.
The interior setup includes 520 litres (VDA) of trunk space with the second-row seats in place. With the second-row seats folded down, stowage capacity increases to approximately 1,300 litres, Kia specifies. The car also features a front trunk which provides up to an additional 52 litres of stowage space for 2WD models. CEO Song put towing capacity at 1,600 kilos.
Plus, there is vehicle-to-load capability both through a connector inside and the charge port (via adapter). The ICCU enables the function. The V2L function can supply up to 3.6kW of power, and Kia gives the example of operating a 55-inch television and air conditioner simultaneously for more than 24 hours. The system is also able to charge another EV if needed, says the company.
Inside, just like the Ioniq 5, the EV6 relies on two side-by-side displays. Below the infotainment display is a bar of buttons for some basic climate control functions. The air condition has moved underneath the hood. Like Hyundai, Kia has opted for a rather unusually designed two-spoke steering wheel, only the Kia has a continuous centre console. Hyundai has famously opted for a different approach here.
For a future outlook, the Kia EV6 is the first in the line of an upcoming seven dedicated electric models utilising the E-GMP architecture. At the presentation, President Song dismissed any further questions as to what these seven dedicated would be, however, saying it was “too early for us to share information for the future product.” The remaining four of the eleven planned vehicles in the mid-term will be conversions from existing models.
Marketeer Martins only assured, “Yes, we will also bring more affordable EVs in the portfolio,” that is after the flagship, which will carry over Kia into a future as a mobility service provider. How remains open. As of now, Kia is staying with the dealership model, albeit online. Pre-sales are about to start and Kia just released the pricing, starting at at 44,990 euros. The EV6 GT will follow only in winter 2022 – for 65,990 euros.
The standard Kia EV6 will arrive in Korea and Europe, including the UK, in September. Production will begin in Korea in July with no plans to move into other production facilities overseas so far, CEO Song said.
BEVs, plug-in hybrid and pure hybrid vehicles to make up 40 per cent of Kia’s total sales by 2030, with an annual sales target of 1.6 million units. As part of this, the company says it aims to grow its BEV sales to 880,000 units in 2030 and become a “top global seller”.
>> Press conference live online. kianewscenter.com
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