Hyundai & Kia Plan Electric Car Ramp In Korea

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Hyundai and Kia recently confirmed they will build a new electric car factory in Georgia at a cost of nearly $6 billion. But their plans for EV manufacturing go deeper and wider than that. This week, Hyundai Motor Group said it plans to invest $17 billion between now and 2030 to ramp up electric car production in South Korea.

The goal, according to a report out of Korea, is to increase domestic production from an estimated 350,000 units this year to 1.44 million units by the end of this decade. Globally, Hyundai and Kia want to produce as many as 3.23 million full electric cars in 2030, 45% of which will come off assembly lines in South Korea.

“Hyundai Motor and Kia’s large scale investment in the domestic EV industry aims to improve the domestic EV ecosystem and make the country a global leader in innovation in the future automotive industry,” a Hyundai representative said. The two companies did not disclose which factories the roughly $17 billion would be allocated to. Hyundai announced in March it plans to introduce 17 battery electric models by 2030 — 11 under the Hyundai brand and 6 for Genesis.

Kia Purpose-Built Vehicles Initiative

In a separate announcement this week, Kia said it will establish a new smart manufacturing facility dedicated to producing electric purpose-built vehicles at its existing Hwaseong manufacturing site in Korea. The company plans to begin construction in the first half of 2023, with the aim to commence commercial production in the second half of 2025. The new factory will be able to build 100,000 PBVs a year when it opens with the capacity to increase production to 150,000 units annually as the PBV market expands during the remainder of this decade.

“This dedicated PBV facility is one of the major pillars of our Plan S strategy as Kia seeks to claim the top position in the global PBV market,” said Ho Sung Song, CEO of Kia. “We will initially explore new markets with derivative PBV models, then gradually expand our presence in global markets with dedicated PBV models featuring autonomous driving technologies.”

And what, you may ask, is a purpose-built vehicle? Good question. We asked ourselves that question in the executive dining room at CleanTechnica’s graphene and carbide global headquarters this week and got lots of blank stares. Well, friends, cast a glance at the image above, which was taken from the Kia press release. Where have we seen vehicles like that before. Hmmmm …… think, think, think. Okay, got it!

Canoo model lineup
Courtesy of Canoo

Yup, Canoo, the on-again, off-again California startup that wanted to bring customized vehicles to consumers based on a standard and highly configurable electric chassis. Hyundai was once rumored to have made a financial investment in Canoo back in 2020. We aren’t sure what became of that affiliation, but there clearly has been some transfer of intellectual property between the two companies.

One can’t help but wonder if some of those purpose-built vehicles might not be appropriate for use by the US Postal Service. Vehicles don’t get much more purpose-built than that.

Kia says the new PBV facility will begin by building a midsized PBV codenamed “SW” based on its eS skateboard platform that is being developed explicitly for PBVs. The new platform can accommodate various model sizes in response to diverse customer demands. Following the launch of the SW, Kia will diversify into unmanned micro-sized PBVs, general logistics, fresh food, multi-seat shuttles, and large PBVs that can be used as mobile offices or shops. The future’s so bright that we gotta wear shades, as they say.

The Takeaway

Like Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to accelerating the EV revolution. By all accounts, their current offerings are truly compelling electric cars — just what the world needs to convince people to give up their gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing conventional cars.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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