Korean company wants 500k EV sales per year by 2026, but Australia remains low on the global priority list
- shares

Kia plans to have 11 battery-electric vehicles in its global stable by 2025, headlined by a dedicated EV crossover with a Porsche Taycan-matching 800V electrical architecture and 500km of driving range due next year.

The ambitious company plans to sell 500,000 EVs around the world by 2026 (oddly, excluding China where it runs a joint-venture presumably with its own separate targets), equal to 6.6 per cent of global market share.

"Starting with the launch of its maiden dedicated EV model in 2021, Kia will establish a full EV line-up of 11 models by 2025, adding new EV models to its whole line-up along the way, including passenger vehicles, SUVs and MPVs from 2022," it said this week.

Much of the focus will be directed towards "developed markets" with public policies around fleet-wide CO2 targets. If met, Kia's lofty EV sales goals for Korea, the US and Europe would see BEVs account for about 20 per cent of its annual sales inside five years.

The company also highlighted its investments in Croatian performance EV maker Rimac announced last May, and in the car-maker-funded Ionity charging network across Europe announced in September.

Over and above this it also wants to sell a further 500,000 'eco-friendly' hybrid vehicles per year within the same timeframe, "attaining a 25 per cent share of its [total] sales from its eco-friendly cars".

In "developing" markets the company promises to selectively introduce EV models while raising volumes of its profitable internal combustion vehicles, a growing proportion of which are to be SUVs and commercial vehicles.

The mid-term strategy called 'Plan S' will cost the company a staggering $US25 billion (about $AUD36b) out to 2025. To make it viable, Kia wants a 6 per cent operating profit margin by then, and a 10.6 per cent return-on-equity ratio.

“As the auto industry undergoes turbulent changes, today is also an opportune time for Kia Motors to radically transform itself," said KMC president and CEO Han-woo Park.

An accompanying press release discussed "the company’s evolution as an enterprise championing EVs and mobility solutions," and "becoming a pioneer in the age of EVs, and a brand beloved by the millennial generation and Z generation".

The halo will be that EV crossover mentioned earlier, presumably inspired by the Kia Imagine concept revealed late last year.

"The dedicated EV model to be launched 2021 will be built on a unique platform specifically engineered to accommodate the car’s world-leading EV powertrain and technologies," the company said.

"It will offer a crossover design which blurs the boundaries between passenger and sport utility vehicles, a future-oriented user experience, a single-charge driving range of over 500 kilometres, and sub-20-minute high-speed charging time.

"Across its EV line-up, Kia plans to operate two different types of EVs with different charging capabilities (400V/800V) - high-performance dedicated models and derivative models with reasonable pricing - to meet the diverse needs of customers."

Australia:

So, what about Australia?

Essentially, Kia's local arm - the only top 10 brand to grow in sales during 2019 - has made it clear that EVs are on its menu, but we'd note that its parent company's global policy of directing factory supply to markets with established CO2 caps, government incentives, and other market levers, means it is behind Korea, Europe and the US in the queue.

In the UK alone the first 12 months allocation of E-Niros sold out in the first four weeks.

The company has spoken plainly about its desire for the Niro EV crossover and Soul EV hatch to compete with sister brand Hyundai's Kona Electric and Ioniq, with both Kias potentially still on track for a 2021 launch, but sources inside the brand this week couldn't give more exact timing.

Tellingly though, KMCAu is spending substantial amounts training techs in its 134 dealers to service EVs already, and several dealers are already fitting EV fast-chargers. So it's obviously a matter of when, not if.

"We want it to happen... The problem is the supply is so tight and we are so far down the food chain, because there’s no punitive government fines for not having electric vehicles (in Australia)," said Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth.