Kia Motors is developing an ultra-compact electric car to rival existing models such as the Citroen Ami, in an effort to provide people with affordable alternatives to public transport in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
In an interview with Auto Express, Kia Motors' Europe COO, Emilio Herrera, said the South Korean carmaker had noted the rise in the use of private transportation following the COVID-19 outbreak and was working to fill a gap in the market for a small, economical, sustainable, urban-friendly car.
“We are already studying a proposal on having very small micro vehicles for urban use – we see a real potential,” he explained.
“Those vehicles we are targeting are EVs – 100 per cent electric with a small range, but being used only in an urban environment."
Kia's model, Mr Herrera said, would rival existing offerings like the Citroen Ami, a Europe-only micro electric vehicle offering a range of only 71km and a top speed of 45km/h.
Above: The Citroen Ami.
Much like the Ami – which can be purchased outright for €6000 (AU$10,030) or rented by the minute, month or longer-term – Kia's car would also likely be available on a subscription basis.
“It’s something we’re investigating at this point in time because we believe it could be an alternative to public transportation, providing we can deliver it at a very similar cost to public transportation," Mr Herrera explained.
"So that means a subscription model, or you can rent it for a week or month, so it needs to be pretty flexible like public transportation. We’re really looking at very low monthly prices for subscription, so it can really compete – and the Ami is one of the vehicles we’ve looked at.”
Mr Herrera said the car won't only be available in Europe, saying: “The idea with this project is for it to be global, not just for Europe. It will have the synergies of scale to ensure that this vehicle would be available at a very cheap price for consumers.”
Mr Herrera did not confirm whether the new car's platform would be the same one currently being developed by Kia's sister brand, Hyundai, in partnership with Californian EV startup Canoo.
“We could eventually share the platform with Hyundai, but the idea is to have a dedicated platform from Kia that we could eventually share with Hyundai," he said.
A rendering of the vehicle obtained exclusively by Auto Express suggests it will look similar to a Picanto while borrowing its boxy silhouette and some frontal design elements from Kia's E-Soul (pictured above) – an all-electric city hatchback the company hoped to introduce in Australia in 2020, but has now been pushed back indefinitely.
Currently, the smallest Kia available in Australia is the petrol-powered Picanto, which starts from $16,190 drive-away and leads the city-car segment in the national sales race.
A Kia Motors Australia spokesperson told CarAdvice the Australian arm had no further information on the car or its likelihood of making it to our market.