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Kia Motors accelerates business transformation into leading EV brand

Korean brand reveals first stage of future product plans, including seven new dedicated BEVs that will be launched by 2027 across several vehicle segments

The Kia Motors Corporation has shared a glimpse of its global electric vehicle (EV) business strategy, revealing an early sketch of several of the brand’s future dedicated Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). Details of the vehicle manufacturer’s future EV product strategy were announced by Kia President and CEO, Ho Sung Song, during an event at the brand’s Hwasung plant in South Korea.

Kia is looking to establish itself as a leader in the global EV market ,by responding to fast-growing global consumer demand for EVs. The brand will launch a diverse range of dedicated BEVs, and is set to partner with EV charging companies worldwide to achieve this.

“Kia has sold more than 100,000 BEVs worldwide since the introduction of our first mass-produced BEV in 2011, the Kia Ray EV,” said Song. “Since then, we have started to introduce a range of new BEVs for global markets, and announced plans to accelerate this process in the years ahead.”

He added, “By refocusing our business on electrification, we are aiming for BEVs to account for 25% of our total worldwide sales by 2029.”

Under Kia’s ‘Plan S’ strategy, announced at the start of 2020, the brand plans to expand its BEV line-up to 11 models by 2025. Over the same period, Kia is aiming to ensure that BEVs account for 20% of the brand’s total vehicle sales in advanced markets, including South Korea, North America and Europe. The South Korean brand is looking to launch seven dedicated BEVs by 2027.

The first of these BEVs, code-named CV, will be revealed in 2021 as the brand’s first dedicated model in this category, destined for many regions globally. The new model will offer the same competitive product quality and eye-catching design as Kia’s other vehicles, with high-performance driving and recharging characteristics.

Kia’s ‘Plan S’ strategy towards electrification

Kia Motors unveiled its ‘Plan S’ mid- to long-term future strategy in January 2020, outlining the brand’s plans to transition its future businesses to focus on BEVs and mobility solutions. Kia is focused on securing a global EV leadership position, by launching dedicated BEV models and innovating in areas such as production, sales and services.

Kia Motors is undergoing a company-wide transformation in order to realise the ‘Plan S’. The CV model, due to launch in 2021, will encapsulate the brand’s attitude towards innovation and change.

It will present a new design direction that signifies Kia’s transition to an EV-focused business strategy. The brand’s new design philosophy embraces progress, diversity and a rich composition of contrasting elements.

It is also undergoing innovations in its vehicle planning, development and production processes, to actively reflect diverse customer needs from the product planning stage. Kia is planning to respond to market demands by offering diversified product types, with a range of models suitable for urban centres, long-range journeys, and performance driving. By also adapting its new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), Kia will be able to offer vehicles with best-in-class interior spaciousness.

Kia Motors is also seeking to innovate its sales practices for EVs. The brand is exploring the creation of subscription services to offer a diversified buying option for customers, as well as EV battery leasing and rental programmes, and other ‘second-life’ battery-related businesses.

The company plans to expand its global service infrastructure for EVs, part of which will be seen in the increase in numbers of dedicated EV work bays in South Korea, to 1,200 by 2030. Kia will increase its number of EV work bays to 600 by the end of this year, and more than 2,000 by 2023. It also plans to develop its own programmes to train EV maintenance professionals as part of this expansion process.

Kia sees the expansion of electric charging infrastructures as a pre-condition for the popularisation of EVs, and continues to explore activities worldwide to improve charging accessibility for drivers.

In South Korea, Kia will strengthen business activities that directly lead to the construction of a charging infrastructure. Initially, this will rely on its existing network of nationwide sales branches, dealerships and service centres, with the company aiming to supply around 1,500 EV chargers by 2030.

Hyundai Motor Group is set to add to this, installing 120 Ultra-Fast Chargers by 2021 in urban centres and along twelve highways linking eight provinces across South Korea.

Worldwide, Kia is set to establish over 2,400 EV chargers in Europe, and around 500 in North America, in partnership with its dealer networks. Kia plans to continue expand its charging infrastructure, in line with the growing global market for EVs.

The South Korean brand is also striving to secure a comprehensive charging infrastructure for customers through strategic alliances. In September 2019, Kia undertook a strategic investment in IONITY, a European company specialising in high-speed EV charging.

The company is also seeking charging infrastructure partners for the US and China, to provide an optimised infrastructure tailored to conditions in each market. At the same time, the company will strengthen cooperation, to leverage new charging technologies.

Kia is supporting its efforts to establish a leadership position in the global EV market through active collaboration with governments, and by engaging in other commercial partnerships.

In July 2020, it established a new start-up called Purple M, which specialises in providing customised e-mobility services based on EVs. Kia also plans to enhance collaboration with various government organisations to expand cooperation in several areas, including the conversion of public transportation to electric power, and the construction of EV charging infrastructures.

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