Kia has the ‘secret sauce’ for affordable EVs in the US

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Cheaper electric vehicles are on the way, and Kia believes it has an advantage. With its own “secret sauce,” Kia is moving to launch a series of affordable EVs in the US.

“We’re ahead of most, and we’re trying to rush out ahead because our technology will be more evolved,” Kia America COO Steve Center told Automotive News.

Kia revealed a new range of low-cost EVs during its first annual EV Day in October, including the EV2, EV3, EV4, and EV5.

With an “EV for all,” Kia plans a wide-ranging lineup with prices from $30,000 to $80,000. To accelerate sales and compete with Chinese automakers like BYD, Kia is launching smaller, more affordable EVs.

Kia has already launched the EV5 in China, with starting prices around $20,000 (149,800 yuan). However, in Australia, where it’s imported, it will cost around $40,000 (70,000 AUS).

Although Kia has not announced plans to bring the EV5 to the US, it is planning to launch several affordable EVs and believes it already has a head start.

Kia EV lineup from left to right: EV6, EV4, EV5, EV3, EV9 (Source: Kia)

Kia to kick off affordable EVs in the US

“You can’t just jump in and catch up. You have to have your own R&D, your own secret sauce,” Center explained. Kia believes it’s ahead with new low-cost EVs on the horizon.

Next up for launch will be the EV3, Kia’s compact electric SUV. The EV3 is a shrunken EV9, taking the design and tech of the EV9 and putting them into a smaller, more affordable package.

Kia EV3 concept (Source: Kia)

Like the EV9, the smaller SUV features Kia’s new “Opposites United” design with a redesigned “Tiger Face” grille and wide wheel arches.

The concept featured a minimalist interior with plant-derived materials. Although the concept shown in October had a single screen for the driver display and infotainment, the production version is expected to feature Kia’s next-gen ccNC infotainment system.

Kia’s new EV3 is expected to debut this summer or by the end of 2024, with prices starting at around $30,000. It’s also due to receive a sporty GT Line model.

We’ve seen prototypes testing as the compact electric SUV nears its official debut. The EV3 is expected to be about the size of the new Volvo EX30 or Hyundai Kona at around 170″ long, 72″ wide, and 62″ tall.

Kia EV4 concept (Source: Kia)

The EV4, Kia’s take on an entry-level electric sedan, is expected to follow in 2025 or 2026 with prices around $35,000. Kia says the EV4 is an “entirely new type of sedan that stands as a symbol of innovation.”

Kia has already converted its West Point, GA facility to produce its three-row EV9 electric SUV. Although EV9 models are being shipped from Korea, Kia is expected to move production to GA this summer.

Kia EV4 concept (Source: Kia)

The Center said the sooner lighter, higher-density energy batteries are introduced, the sooner the cost can come down, adding, “That’s the holy grail.”

Kia’s EVs built at the facility are expected to qualify for the Federal EV tax credit. “When you’re building affordable EVs in the US, the rebate will appeal more to households with less income,” Center said.

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line (Source: Kia)

Center said EVs offer automakers a fresh start. “Just because you’re great at something else doesn’t mean you’re going to be great at EVs,” he explained.

“If someone wants an EV, and their regular brand doesn’t have it, they’re going to have to look elsewhere. Right away, they will have to explore other brands.”

Center said Kia will be selling customers their “second and third EV when some other companies finally get in the game — and they’re going to have to conquest.”

Electrek’s Take

Most automakers, including Ford, GM, Volkswagen, Rivian, and others, have announced plans to introduce low-cost EVs.

However, if Kia can launch the EV3, priced around $30,000 this year, it will have most automakers beat.

GM is launching the Chevy Equinox EV with prices as low as $34,995, yet that’s for the 1LT model, which is also expected out later this year. For now, the cheapest Equinox EV starts at $43,295. With the $7,500 tax credit, prices could fall to as low as $35,795.

Volvo also launched the EX30, starting at $34,950 in the US and €36,590 in Europe. CEO Jim Rowan expects “tremendous growth” this year as the low-cost EV rolls out.

Ford is planning a new low-cost EV platform to underpin a smaller electric pickup and SUV. The first model is due out in 2026, and prices will start around $25,000.

Rivian unveiled its smaller, cheaper R2 electric SUV last month. The electric SUV will start at around $45,000, with production slated for early 2026.

With GM and Nissan phasing out the current Chevy Bolt EV and LEAF models, two of the most affordable EVs in the US, Kia has an opportunity to take advantage.

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