Kia launches $20K EV5 electric SUV in China to rival leaders BYD and Tesla


Kia launched its new EV5 electric SUV in China Friday. With a starting price of around $20K (149,800 yuan), the EV5 is expected to take on market leaders, including Tesla’s Model Y.

Can Kia compete in the world’s largest EV market? The South Korean automaker hopes to achieve that with its new compact electric SUV.

Kia officially unveiled the EV5 in August as a family-friendly electric SUV. After opening pre-orders in China on August 25, Kia revealed prices would be much lower than expected.

Although local reports expected starting prices of around $40,000 (300,000 yuan), Kia is launching the EV5 at half that.

The EV5 officially launched Wednesday with a starting price of $20,700 (149,800 yuan). That significantly undercuts the Tesla’s Model Y, starting at 266,400 yuan ($37,000).

At 4,615 mm long, 1,875 mm wide, and 1,715 mm tall, the EV5 will compete directly with the Model Y (L – 4,760 mm, W – 1,921 mm, H – 1,624 mm).

Kia’s electric SUV will compete with low-cost EVs from leaders like BYD. BYD is dominating the market with affordable EVs like the Dolphin electric hatchback and Yuan Plus.

The Dolphin starts at around $17,000 (126,800 yuan), while the Yuan Plus is priced at $19,000 (139,800 yuan).

Kia EV5 (Source: Kia)

Kia launches $20K EV5 to take on BYD, Tesla

Influenced by its flagship EV9’s design, the EV5 “brings a new era of electric mobility to the compact SUV sector to meet the needs of millennial families.”

The EV5 features Kia’s new “Opposites United” design, including a rugged, boxy exterior with powerful fenders.

Kia EV5 electric SUV (Source: Kia)

You will notice the new “Tiger Face” up front, replacing Kia’s signature “Tiger Nose” grille. The vehicle’s three-dimensional “Star Map Lighting” further emphasizes the SUV’s aggressive design.

Since millennials use their SUV as an “additional room,” according to Kia, the EV5’s interior is designed to be more like a home lounge. A pushed-back D-pillar extends the interior space. Meanwhile, the folding rear bench provides ultimate flexibility with additional storage under the floor.

Kia EV5 interior (Source: Kia)

Equipped with Kia’s connected car Navigation Cockpit (ccNC), the EV5 features a panoramic wide display. This includes a dual 12.3″ cluster and infotainment and a 5″ climate control display.

Kia kept the interior simple with few buttons, resulting in a minimalist feel. Instead, four hidden hard keys are held under the central AVNT screen.

Kia EV5 rear (Source: Kia)

Based on Hyundai’s E-GMP platform, the EV5 will come in three variations: standard, long-range, and long-range AWD.

The standard Kia EV5 trim, starting at around $20K, is equipped with a 64.2 kWh BYD Blade battery pack and 160 kW motor, providing up to 530 km (329 miles) CLTC range. The long-range model features an 88.1 kWh battery for up to 720 km (447 miles) CLTC range.

Kia EV5 battery options and range (Source: Kia)

That’s not too far off from Tesla’s Model Y. The Model Y RWD, starting at 266,400 yuan ($37K), features 554 km (344 miles) CLTC range. The Model Y long-range, starting at 302,400 yuan ($42K), includes up to 544 km (338 miles) range.

Electrek’s Take

Kia’s new electric SUV could play a significant role as the automaker looks to expand in the biggest EV market globally.

At nearly half the cost, Kia’s EV5 is aimed at rival market leaders like Tesla’s Model Y. It will also take on low-cost competitors like the BYD Dolphin and Yuan Plus EVs.

The only thing Kia needs to work on now is bringing the EV5 overseas to the US. Kia’s flagship EV9 will hit US dealerships by the end of the year, but a smaller, cheaper option could sell with affordable EVs like the current Bolt EV, being retired at the end of the year.

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