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Kia reveals ambitious EV plans – including self-driving cars

Motoring Research logo Motoring Research 15/01/2020 Ethan Jupp
a group of people in a room: Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

Kia has announced its plans for the first half of this decade, with a huge focus on the introduction and increased sales of EVs.

It plans to sell half-a-million electric cars, among one million so-called ‘eco-friendly’ models, every year by 2026. It’s one of many goals in ‘Plan S’, the Korean company’s grand plan for the future. And it really is grand.

Plan S: what Kia will do next Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

The plan is two-pronged, with the first being relatively conventional: a focus on EVs. The second prong is far less so, but equally important: customised mobility solutions. In other words, every possible way you could use a car without actually buying one.

Kia wants to meet with heads of infrastructure in order to supply the fleets of the future. And it’s going to evolve in order to meet their needs.

“As the auto industry undergoes turbulent changes, today is also an opportune time for Kia Motors to radically transform itself into a global enterprise, dedicated to spearheading customer value-led innovations,” said Kia president and CEO, Han-woo Park.

Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

“Plan S is a bold and enterprising roadmap for Kia’s future business transition, buttressed by the two pillars of electric vehicles and mobility solutions.

“Kia will reinvigorate its brand innovation by developing products and services that offer new experiences for customers.”

‘A pre-emptive transition to EVs’ a blue car parked in front of a house: Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

The EV part of ‘Plan S’ begins with the marque launching its first dedicated electric car in 2021. The current e-Niro is a repurposed internal combustion car. This new model will be all-original and all-electric.

Kia plans to ‘adopt a strategy of product differentiation’ by launching dedicated EVs, with their own designs, user experiences and quality. That line-up will swell to 11 models by 2025, including cars, SUVs and MPVs. There will be dedicated high-performance models, plus a mix of 400- and 800-volt architectures.

a car parked on the side of a building: Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

The new car will blur the lines between car and SUV. It’ll be on a unique platform, and drive around 320 miles on a single charge. Kia also claims a sub-20-minute high-speed charge time.

All of the above should help Kia towards a target 6.6 percent EV market share by 2025. By then, it hopes for EVs to make up 20 percent of the cars it sells. All this will take a total investment nearing £20 billion.

Customised mobility solutions Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

Kia also wants to cater to cities as they evolve, developing purpose-built vehicles and establishing mobility hubs.

Live in a city? It’s likely that it would already be more convenient for you to call a car, or an autonomous pod, than it would be to actually own one. Kia hopes to cater for those who are outgrowing the traditional car ownership model.

a car parked on the side of a building: Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

The company’s idea of a mobility hub is a solution to the problem of zero-emission zones. Not all motorists want to own an EV, in spite of an increasing number of urban areas legislating against conventional cars.

Think of a mobility hub as the car equivalent of a Boris bike pick-up; drop your vehicle off and collect the keys to a dedicated Kia city EV. In the long term, Kia sees self-driving robotaxis operating out of these hubs. A brave new world indeed.

Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions © Provided by Motoring Research Kia plan S – electric cars and mobility solutions

Such city-centric vehicles will be based on scalable and modular ‘skateboard’ platforms. Wheels, battery and motors can have different bodies mounted to them.

Kia has invested in a number of companies to help further its efforts in these areas. Grab is the largest ride-hailing service in south east Asia. It’s also working with Repsol in Spain on the WiBLE car-sharing service, running 500 Niro PHEVs in Madrid.

Plus, it’s collaborating with Aptiv, a world-leader in autonomous driving tech, to develop its own autonomous platform by 2024. Kia hopes to licence this technology to other carmakers, too.

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