The first annual Kia EV Day took place on October 12, 2023. The company used that event to formally introduce three new battery electric models available now or coming soon. Kia likes to keep things simple. The new models are known as the EV3, EV4, and EV5. All are built on the company’s E-GMP platform that supports either 400- or 800-volt architecture. Higher voltages typically enable faster charging.
Kia’s largest electric car is the EV9, an all electric counterpart to the Kia Telluride, a 3-row, 7-passenger SUV that has all the design characteristics of a boxcar, with a carrying capacity to match. It’s no svelte coupe-like GT machine, but if you need to get a bunch of people and all their stuff from here to there comfortably, it’s ideal. A lot of Americans are looking for just such a vehicle, which has led to a warm welcome for the EV9 in the marketplace.
Meet The Kia EV5
But what if you don’t need to transport that many people on a regular basis and prefer a car that is more of a medium size vehicle? Then the EV5 is for you. We previewed that car in August. Back then, the company said in a press release, “It seamlessly blends a transformative design, exceptional versatility, and outstanding comfort to deliver a harmoniously balanced vehicle. Every attribute of the EV5 has been designed and engineered to provide the flexibility required by modern families and enhance their enjoyment on every journey.”
At EV Day, Kia said production of the EV5 will take place in both China and Korea. Chinese customers will have a choice of three models — standard, long range, and long range AWD. The standard range car will come with a 64 kWh battery pack and a 160 kW motor driving the front wheels. It will have a range of 530 km as measured by the China Light Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC) standard. The long range model will have an 88 kWh battery, the same 160 kW front mounted motor, and a range of 720 km.
The long range AWD model will also have the 88 kWh battery pack but adds a 70 kW motor at the rear for a combined output of 230 kW. Its range is said to be 650 km. In addition, it will have a more robust fast charging capability that will make charging from 30% to 80% capacity possible in 27 minutes.
Is The Kia EV5 Coming To America?
During EV Day, Kia officials gave conflicting statements about whether the EV5 will be sold in the US. Autoblog reports that Ho Sung Song, Kia’s president and CEO, said the EV5 will come to “America,” and a representative from the product planning department said it would arrive in mid-2025. However, Kia later issued a statement saying the EV5 is confirmed for “North America.” Company sources followed that up by saying it will not be sold in the United States, the inference being that it may be sold in Canada and Mexico but not the US.
You might think it would be a perfect choice for American drivers, but the fact is that the market today is gaga over three-row SUVs. Sales of the 5-passenger Honda Passport in the US have been disappointing lately, but the main reason appears to be the company has no plans to manufacture the EV5 in the US. Therefore, it will not be eligible for the federal EV tax incentive/rebate, which will render it uncompetitive against other EVs that are eligible.
EV3 Compact SUV
The EV3 is yet another variation on the EV9 theme. It is the Baby Bear equivalent to the Mama Bear EV5 and the Pappa Bear EV9. Once again, it is attractively styled and practical, with some interesting design features inside like a center console made from mycelium, a fungus-based material that’s growing in popularity with automakers seeking more eco-friendly materials. It can also be repositioned to act as a table as well. The rear bench seat folds up so that bicycles can fit inside. There is even a possibility the Kia vehicle-to-load feature could be used to recharge an e-bike while driving.
The EV3 is a concept at the present time, but Autoblog says it is very close to production ready. Kia design chief Karim Habib said he likes rear-hinged back doors on concept cars because it allows people to see interior details better. Will they make it into production? Habib said enigmatically, “One day you will see it.”
But you may not see it in the US. Once again, Kia has no plans to manufacture the EV3 in the US, so you might see one in Montreal or Mexico City, but not in Memphis. That’s a shame because America desperately needs more affordable EVs. While pricing details were not released during EV Day, the price range of the three new electric cars from Kia is expected to be $30,000 to $50,000.
The new Kia models apparently use the 400-volt version of the E-GMP chassis. It seems only the EV5 AWD will get the 800-volt architecture.
Kia also introduced another concept at EV Day, the EV4 sedan that looks a lot like the EV6 with a flatter rear section grafted on. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, but to us, it looks like the least successful of the three new concepts. The company says it represents “the establishment of new standards for individual vehicle design to redefine entire sectors. Such is the case with the Concept EV4. Its four door format might suggest it should be categorized as a sedan. However, the model’s potent and impactful lines represent not just another sedan, but an entirely new type of EV sedan that stands as a symbol of innovation.” Indeed.
“The Concept EV4 represents a new value, approach, customer experience, and typology. Aspects such as the evocative sleek low nose, the elongated, dynamic long tail silhouette, and the technical roof spoiler, all attributes reminiscent of sports and racing cars, affirm the Concept EV4’s status as an entirely new type of EV sedan.”
The interior is minimalistic and features a sleek and spacious horizontal layout, incorporating stylish design elements that prioritize the driver’s experience without obstructing their view. The air conditioning control panel can be neatly stored in the center console when not in use and applied pin-style air vents offer the flexibility to change patterns, among other refinements to the interior design.
The cocoon-like ambience of the cabin enables the driver to engage with the vehicle in a new and unobtrusive way. Presented via twin digital screens, a slimmed down instrument panel delivers subtle levels of driver orientation, helping clear the mind from distractions and prepare for upcoming tasks.
The message from Kia EV Day is that the company is looking around and seeing BYD as its primary competition in the EV space. BYD does not sell cars in the US, and Kia appears content not to offer a full lineup of electric cars in America as well.
The tax credits contained in the Inflation Reduction Act are meant to encourage companies to build electric cars in America, but it may have the unintended consequence of limiting the choices for Americans who want to buy an EV. That’s unfortunate. Kia has not said it plans to sell any of the cars announced this week in America. We love our Teslas here at CleanTechnica, but we would also like to see a larger variety of EVs available to US customers. Sadly, quite the opposite seems to be happening.
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