Kia shrugs off slowing EV demand to launch compact electric SUV

SEOUL, (Reuters) – Kia Corp launched on Thursday the company’s first compact electric sports utility vehicle built on its dedicated EV platform, betting it can win over buyers through competitive pricing even as momentum in the global EV market stalls.

The EV3 is one of more than 31 electric models that Hyundai Motor Group – which includes Hyundai Motor Co, Kia Corp and premium brand Genesis – plans to introduce in the period through to 2030. Kia said in April that it aims to sell about 1.6 million EV units in 2030.

Kia President Song Ho Sung said the South Korean automaker aimed to price the EV3, based on the dedicated Electrified-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), in a $35,000 to $50,000 range.

“Mainly the barriers are pricing issues and charging infrastructure. And we are making the EV3 very much accessible to our customers with the pricing level that customers are expecting for our vehicle,” Song told reporters at a press conference ahead of the launch.

In October, Kia said it intended to develop a wide range of EV models priced between $30,000 and $80,000, including smaller EVs like the EV5, EV4, and EV3.

In comparison, Volvo Cars last year launched its EX30 electric compact SUV with a starting price of around 36,000 euros ($38,973.60) as the Swedish brand owned by China’s Geely (GEELY.UL) also targets cost-conscious consumers.

The launch of the EV3 comes as consumer demand for hybrid vehicles has surged, while EV sales have been cooling.

In the first quarter, Kia’s hybrid sales rose about 31% from a year earlier to 93,000 units, while its EV sales increased 8% to 44,000 units.

Song said Kia aimed to achieve an annual sales target for the EV3 of 200,000 units worldwide, including in the United States, Europe, South Korea and other markets. Kia did not elaborate on which year the target will be applicable from.

The EV3 will be available in South Korea from July, with a European launch expected late this year and a U.S. launch sometime after 2025. The delayed U.S. launch is because Kia is still assessing the U.S. EV tax credit policy, said Song.

The EV3 will come with two battery pack options – 58.3-kilowatt per hour (kWh) and 81.4 kWh – and will begin production in South Korea, Kia said.

The EV3’s long-range model will have a driving range of about 600 kilometres (373 miles) on a single charge.

($1 = 0.9237 euros)

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Ed Davies and Muralikumar Anantharaman