Kia to introduce entry-level EV, two electric pick-ups by 2027 – target of selling 1.2 million EVs by 2030 –

Kia revealed a series of ambitious new targets up to 2030 during its 2022 CEO Investor Day yesterday. During the virtual event, the South Korean carmaker said it planned to reach annual sales of four million vehicles within the next eight years. That’s an increase of nearly 44% over the 2.78 million units it sold last year and 27% over its 2022 target of 3.15 million.

This massive figure will include over two million “eco-friendly” cars (meaning hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles) and 1.2 million EVs. The company intends to do so by expanding its lineup of battery electric models to 14 by 2027, up from its previous target of 11 by 2026.

Those additional new vehicles are an entry-level EV and two pick-ups. The latter will include a dedicated electric truck that will probably take the fight to the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevrolet Silverado EV and Rivian R1T, as well as a “strategic” model for emerging markets. Might we see a Toyota Hilux-rivalling one-tonne electric pick-up for the Southeast Asian market? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Closer to a market introduction is Kia’s flagship, the EV9, which is set to go on sale next year. Measuring around five metres long, this big electric SUV is nevertheless tipped to get from zero to 100 km/h in just five seconds and have a range of around 540 km. Its 350 kW fast charging capability will also apparently provide an extra 100 km of range with only six minutes of charging.

The EV9 will also offer over-the-air updates and “feature-on-demand” services, the latter allowing users to purchase certain software functions. The car will also be the first to be fitted with Kia’s advanced AutoMode autonomous driving technology, including a Highway Driving Pilot that enables Level 3 self-driving capabilities on highways. The system will be further updated over the coming years, with the eventual goal of fully-autonomous driving functionality.

Kia aims to gradually bump up sales of its EVs, starting with 160,000 units this year, then 807,000 in 2026. The eventual target of 1.2 million EVs is 36% up on the target announced during last year’s event. It is projected that 80% of EV sales will come from Korea, North America, Europe and China – areas that are expected to see EVs take up a 45% share of total Kia sales.

Electric vehicle production is expected to be spread out to cater to the preferences of each region. European sites will build small and mid-sized EVs, while the United States will produce electric mid-sized SUVs and pick-ups that are set to be popular there. Mid-sized EVs will also be built in China and India, with the latter adding entry-level EVs to the mix.

Kia is also planning to produce batteries at its battery cell joint venture in Indonesia and will establish a stable battery supply and demand system at the same time by outsourcing production to global battery companies. Demand for EV batteries is set to increase from 13 kWh to 119 kWh in 2030.

Additionally, Kia is making a big push in the electric purpose-built vehicle (PBV) for the commercial market, which has experienced a boom as deliveries and logistics increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the short term, the company will introduce a Niro Plus for taxi and ride-hailing services later this year.

This will tide the company over until its first dedicated PBV, a scalable mid-sized vehicle built on its skateboard platform, is released in 2025. Kia is promising a lifecycle of 600,000 km, OTA updates and autonomous driving tech with this new model to reduce business operating costs. It will also form synergies between its PBV business and the Hyundai Motor Group’s Advanced Aviation Mobility (AAM, i.e. drones) efforts.

All this is set to enable Kia to hit a revenue target of 120 trillion won (RM411.7 billion) by 2026, along with 10 trillion won (RM34.3 billion) in operating profit and a margin of 8.3%. Around 39% of that profit will come from EVs, derived from a reduction in mixed costs through volume expansion and cost reduction from technology development. Overall, Kia expects eco-friendly models to make up 52% of profits.

Profitability will be improved through additional sales and profit structures due to the commercialisation of new businesses and technologies. Kia’s planned investment in its business operations over the next five years will be increased by five trillion won (RM17.1 billion) to 28 trillion won (RM96 billion), while the percentage of investment going towards future projects has also more than doubled to 46%.

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