Kia To Increase EV Sales, Improve HVAC Efficiency

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In the last couple of years, Kia and Hyundai (same parent company) have really impressed anybody who’s been watching at all. Sure, they’re not anywhere near where Tesla is in terms of volume of sales, but the vehicle technology shows that they’re quite serious about building a decent electric vehicle. Not only are their latest offerings kind of cool, but they charge fast and have good performance figures at competitive prices.

But, as we know, offering a few good EVs doesn’t mean that the company is definitely going to make it in the long run. The EV transition is a complex phenomenon, and it’s full of challenges and pitfalls that could yet swallow even the biggest players in the automotive industry. So, we have to look out for signs that they’re keeping good work up and trying to roll with the punches.

Fortunately, two recent news items from Hyundai show that they’re still putting in the effort to take the EV effort seriously.

Kia Takes Its HVAC Systems Seriously

When it comes to EVs, the efficiency of the heating and air conditioning systems make a big difference in available range. An inefficient heating system in an ICE vehicle would be no big deal, because a heater core uses waste heat from the engine that wasn’t going to be useful anyway. But, with an EV, the energy needs to come from the same battery pack it relies on for range. So, use less power to keep the vehicle warm and you get more range.

In a press release from a couple days ago, Kia told us a lot more about its HVAC systems. The recently launched Kia EV9 boasts of a thermal system that features a heat pump, climate control system, and defrost and de-icing functionalities. Further, customers will experience enhanced convenience through a new climate control panel and improved roof vents, while enjoying maximum comfort. To ensure optimal performance and efficiency in various ambient temperatures, engineers subjected the system to rigorous testing in diverse areas — from northern Sweden to southern Spain.

Image courtesy of Kia.

“The all-new Kia EV9 proves customers don’t have to make sacrifices to be sustainable,” says Richard Peiler, Group Manager HVAC & PT Cooling at Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center. “With these high-tech features, the EV9 sets new standards in the e-SUV segment, delivering all the comfort and convenience of a modern SUV with none of the emissions at the tailpipe.”

The all-new Kia EV9 is equipped with two independent climate control systems that create distinct climate zones for the driver, front passenger, and rear passengers. Additionally, both the first and second rows feature standard ventilated and heated seats, providing maximum comfort for all onboard. Furthermore, the wiring of the heated seats has been upgraded to improve energy efficiency.

“Having two independent HVAC systems doesn’t only increase comfort — it also reduces unnecessary power consumption,” says Gregor Krumboeck, Product Marketing Manager at Kia Europe. “The can save energy by turning off the air conditioning for empty seats, or for passengers who don’t want it.”

Kia engineers focused on maximising cabin comfort and optimising power consumption during testing by tuning the control algorithm of the climate control under extreme hot and cold conditions. The cabin climate control provides the option for passengers to either manually adjust the temperature, intensity, and direction of air flow or for the system to automatically regulate it.

Image courtesy of Kia.

The redesigned roof of the all-new Kia EV9 is fitted with four improved vents. The structure has been optimised to efficiently distribute air to all second- and third-row passengers by enhancing air resistance and diffusion angle for effective heating and cooling.

They also figured out how to solve a problem that’s plaguing other EVs: the stink. Apart from the heating and air circulation systems, the air conditioning of the all-new Kia EV9 has also been updated. The improved air conditioning features an after-blow system that prevents the build-up of bacteria and odors by reducing condensation on the evaporator. The system detects if the air conditioning has been used for a long period while driving and uses the blower to dry the accumulated water. Notably, the after-blow system operates only above a specific temperature to avoid additional battery discharge during winter.

Kia EV9 Concept
Image courtesy of Kia.
Kia EV9 Electric SUV Concept
Image courtesy of Kia.

Production Goal For 2030

Earlier in the month, Kia made another important announcement that we haven’t shared yet. Kia has announced an updated annual sales target for 2030. The target now stands at 4.3 million units, with 2.38 million units expected to be electrified vehicles. In addition, the financial targets have been raised to KRW 160 trillion in gross revenue, 16 trillion won in operating profit, and 10 percent operating profit margin.

These targets are in line with Kia’s mid- to long-term strategy, called “Plan S,” which was introduced in 2020. The strategy prioritizes a proactive shift towards an EV-focused business model and personalized mobility solutions. Kia has been updating its stakeholders annually through its CEO Investor Day meetings.

During the 2023 CEO Investor Day, Kia unveiled updated goals and specific details of its business strategy. The company aims to achieve global sales of 4.3 million units by 2030, which is a 34.4 percent increase from its 2023 annual sales target of 3.2 million units. Kia also plans to establish itself as a leading EV brand by increasing the proportion of electrified car sales to 55 percent (2.38 million units) in 2030, signifying a 7.5 percent (300,000 units) rise from the 2030 target set in 2022. Additionally, the global sales target for electrified vehicles has gone up by 15.5 percent (320,000 units).

“In 2021, Kia went through a full-scale transformation of its corporate name, logo, product and design, as well as corporate strategy. As a result, our brand value has improved significantly, helping us to win a number of ‘Car of the Year’ awards in key markets,” said Kia President and CEO Ho Sung Song. “In order to become a Sustainable Mobility Solutions Provider, Kia needs to continue its efforts to strengthen Kia brand identity and establish an innovative and customer-centric business model.”

But, telling us how many “electrified” vehicles it intends to build doesn’t mean much without knowing how many of them will be battery EVs and not hybrids. Fortunately, Kia gave us that data, too.

A notable aspect of Kia’s refreshed sales targets is the increase in its annual EV sales targets. For 2026, Kia has raised the EV sales target to 1 million units, while for 2030, it has increased the target to 1.6 million units annually. These targets represent a 25 percent and 33 percent increase, respectively, from the goals announced a year earlier.

I know these numbers are probably disappointing for people looking at Tesla’s likely 2030 numbers, but hopefully it means Kia will be able to stay in the game and keep making EVs.

Featured image provided by Kia.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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