Our spy photographers have spotted Kia’s forthcoming flagship electric vehicle undergoing testing for the first time.
Internally known as the Kia CV, it will act as the company’s halo model, introducing next-generation charging technology as well as an all-new platform designed specifically for pure-electric vehicles.
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The Kia CV was previewed by the Imagine by Kia concept car at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. By the looks of it, the production model will adopt some, but not all of that car’s styling cues.
Under the heavy cladding, this mule seems to retain the same coupe-SUV silhouette, fastback rear-end and LED headlamps as the concept. Kia previously expressed its desire to keep the design of its pure-electric halo model faithful to the Imagine concept. During the concept’s launch at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, Kia’s then chief designer, Luc Donkerwolke, suggested that little would need to change between the show car and the production-ready crossover.
He said: “I don’t see anything that’s really not feasible. There are some cost-related issues that have to be validated – but it hasn’t been done by designers who don’t understand how to build a car for production.
“The Imagine by Kia concept is not a free exercise. It’s not just a last-minute car for Geneva. It has a purpose. This is more business than show. We are definitely not entertaining here, but actually communicating with our customers.”
Interestingly, the mule in our latest images also wears a set of aerodynamically efficient alloy wheels, which are shod with carbon fibre vanes. The wheels look suspiciously tidy for a development mule, suggesting the finished model will receive a similar setup.
The sharp crease at the rear of the car, where the rear window meets the tailgate, looks like a feature lifted from a separate Kia concept: the Futuron.
New 2021 Kia EV: platform and powertrain
Kia’s new pure-electric halo model will be the first production model built on the Hyundai Group’s brand-new E-GMP dedicated electric underpinnings. The crossover will also take advantage of Kia’s recent tie-up with EV expert Rimac to offer “incredible” performance, which will later trickle down to more mainstream models in Kia’s line-up.
Kia bosses have previously confirmed that the upcoming EV will have “around 300 miles” of range and offer a “sub-20-minute recharge time.” The crossover’s E-GMP platform will also feature the same 800-volt technology as the Porsche Taycan, which will work with IONITY’s 350kW fast-charging network.
The firm is also plotting a hot version of its flagship EV, which looks set to rival the Taycan on a performance level, too. Kia Motors’ European Chief Operations Officer, Emilio Herrara, told Auto Express: “We will have in the new EV a high performance vehicle like an e-GT.”
Kia expects the range-topping version of its halo EV will deliver Taycan-rivalling pace, with a targeted 0–62mph time of less than three seconds – which is a level of performance as yet unseen for the Korean manufacturer.
Further details on the E-GMP platform’s technical details and performance specifications are still a secret for the time being. However, we have been told that the architecture will be scalable, meaning it will be able to cover several segments and body styles.
Kia’s EV plans: what to expect next
Within the next few years, Kia plans to increase its line-up of battery electric vehicles from two to eleven, while aiming to increase its global EV market share (excluding China) to 6.6 per cent. The company also aims for eco-friendly vehicles to account for 25 percent of its sales within the same period.
Carlos Lahoz, Kia Europe’s marketing director, commented on the product strategy, saying: “It is important to make a statement. Every manufacturer needs a halo car that sets the pace for whatever is coming. We are going to launch 11 [electric cars] by 2025, and this is the first stepping stone to what the new Kia is going to offer to consumers.”
Lahoz admitted that Kia is not a premium brand, however – and that it has no aspirations to become one. “We need to be faithful to our roots,” he said. “We are mainstream. But why do consumers need to pay premium prices to get state of the art technology?”
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