More Affordable EVs From Kia On the Way

Michael Bettencourt
October 24, 2023
At its recent EV day, Kia committed to adding multiple EVs between $35,000 and $50,000 in North America, while unveiling the production EV5 compact SUV, the Concept EV3 SUV and the Concept EV4 sedan. Will these three new EVs be available in the U.S.?
Kia EV5 concept exterior

Kia Reveals Future Electric Car Plans

At Kia’s recent EV Day in South Korea, the company committed to addressing what it sees as one of the greatest barriers to mass electric vehicle adoption: high prices. Kia committed to bring multiple vehicles to North America priced between US$35,000-$50,000.

“Early adopters are still the majority of EV buyers (in the U.S.),” said Ho Sung Song, Kia’s president and CEO. “It’s clear there are two main challenges: high prices, and charging convenience.”

Kia’s EV6 midsize crossover has established the Korean brand’s high-end EV charging leadership with its 230-kW maximum charge speed that allows it to DC quick charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 18 minutes, numbers similar to six-figure Porsche and Lucid (and all Tesla) models – though only on 350 kW DC public chargers that are relatively rare outside of EV sales hotspots.

With the upcoming three-row EV9 set to land on these shores by the end of the year, and orders to open on October 16, Kia says its next few vehicles coming to market will come in under the EV6 in both size and price.

“In the U.S., there are 30 EV models, versus 400 ICE (internal combustion engine) models,” said Song At the EV Day event, which the company said will take place annually, “Kia aims to tackle this by offering multiple EVs, priced between $35,000 to $50,000.”

Kia EV4 concept exterior

Kia: Lots of Smaller EVs Globally, Some for North America

Kia then pulled the wraps off three EVs that were lower in size and potential price from its current offerings:

  • First the production version of the EV5 compact crossover, which was shown in ‘concept’ form earlier this year in China.
  • The Concept EV3, which is a compact SUV that closely follows the EV9’s blocky but practical design ethos.
  • The Concept EV4, a higher-riding compact EV sedan, with some SUV-like cues.

The clear implication here was that Kia sees the introduction of smaller and less expensive vehicles such as these as crucial to grow the EV market from the current early adopters to the early majority.

Amongst the three major EV markets of North America, Europe and China, North America is the furthest behind in terms of EV market share, and electric vehicle choices.

Along with high prices, another major impediment to EV adoption in North America is charging convenience, said CEO Ho. Kia is a part of the seven-automaker consortium that has committed to starting and expanding a new DC quick charging network to help more mainstream consumers find convenient charging options wherever they are, or no matter how far they’re going.

To that end, the consortium is planning to install 30,000 chargers by 2030, said Ho, in a network that currently plans to offer both NACS (Tesla) and CCS (everyone else, currently) plugs for high-speed charging. Kia has committed to start incorporating the NACS connector into its vehicles starting in the last quarter of 2024, although it’s not clear yet if this will be on all newly introduced Kia BEVs, or its entire BEV lineup for the 2025 model year.

Kia EV5 front exterior concept

EV5 Coming to North America in Limited Numbers

The EV5’s arrival in North America seemed firm in product planning discussions with multiple executives, but exactly when and where on this continent is still up in the air. The official line from Kia is that it’s not quite confirmed the EV5 will come to the U.S. market, but that it is “considering to export the EV5 to North America starting from 2025.”

“We don’t have a plan to build the EV5 in North America,” said CEO Song, suggesting that the lack of federal rebates weighs heavily on the decision, even if Kia buyers can currently benefit from the $7,500 rebate if they lease their Korean-built EV6.

“Technically we may export these vehicles to the U.S., with some limitation of volume, launching in Korea around 2025, with export to U.S. in middle of 2025.”

The EV5 will be the first 400-volt E-GMP platform-vehicle for Kia in North America, with a slower maximum charging speed of roughly 140 kW, compared to roughly 230 kW for the 800-volt EV6. The EV5 can charge from 30 to 80 percent at a DC charger in 27 minutes, according to Kia.

Like most Kias, the EV5 will be offered with some impressive convenience items for the price, including a massage seat for the driver, rear passenger temperature controls, a heat pump and one-pedal driving via an i-Pedal function.

There will even be a high performance EV5 GT model coming later, to continue the EV6 GT’s tradition of huge power and exciting handling in a practical hauler body.

Unlike Tesla, even this lower-priced Kia will offer two screens: a 12.3-inch cluster in front of the driver, and a same-size screen for the infotainment system, plus separate climate controls. There will also be over-the-air (OTA) updates offered, as well as plans to offer vehicle-to-load (V2L) like the EV6 and its Hyundai Ioniq 5 cousin. And if the market’s grid allows, the EV5 may also offer vehicle-to-grid capability, to potentially allow for payments from your power provider for ‘loaning’ them power when needed.

There will also be a full-flat folding second row camping seat mode where folks can lie flat, helped by a rear console fridge or warmer that can keep things anywhere from 40 to 130 degrees F, with a four-liter capacity (roughly 0.141 cu-ft).

Kia EV3 concept side profile

Kia EV3 or EV4 Have “50/50” Chance of North American Sales

Kia officials are also studying whether or not to bring the production versions of the Concept EV3 and Concept EV4 to North America, with one executive saying there’s still half-and-half odds of its arrival here, but that they’re almost certain to make it to Europe.

The general consensus built by the end seemed to be that Kia wants to bring them both, but isn’t sure they would be competitive without being eligible for the $7,500 federal rebate.

Cho also confirmed that an even smaller EV2 model is on the way, to be built in Slovakia in 2025, along with other EV models.

Also planned is a new combined app with AI services in the first half of 2024. One key new feature will be an E-routing function that can read the charge of the vehicle and recommend stops accordingly, just like Tesla and its Supercharger network.

On top of this, Kia will introduce AI tech in the 2024 EV3, with planned later integration into the EV4 and EV5 with OTA updates. It will be able to recommend restaurants, chargers and estimate charging times needed at each stop of a long journey to calculate enough range to a final destination.

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