A patent filing by Kia for a new E-based badge possibly points the way to a new sub-brand for the company's future electric vehicles.
Currently, the Kia Soul EV, sold only in select markets, is the brand's sole pure electric offering. Just a month ago, Kia's European CEO, Michael Cole, let slip that the company's EV range would double in 2018, with the Niro crossover gaining an EV drivetrain shared with the Hyundai Ioniq.
In April 2016, it was reported that Hyundai and Kia would will jointly launch 26 vehicles with fully or partially electric drivetrains by 2020.
We've seen some of these vehicles unveiled, and Kia is already in the process of broadening its plug-in hybrid offerings. Originally launched as a hybrid, Kia used the recent Geneva motor show to add a plug-in hybrid model to the Niro range.
Additionally, the current generation Optima is available with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain in certain overseas markets.
It's possible that in time, Kia's EVs, and potentially its hybrids and plug-in hybrids too, will gain E badging and branding. If so, it will join a growing roster of EV sub-brands from other famous marques, including BMW i, Audi e-tron, and Mercedes-Benz EQ.
Another possibility is that Kia has yet to decide and this filing was done just-in-case, meaning that the E badge might never see the light of day.