Kia Seems Overly Confident That It Will Soon Crack The Code To Affordable EVs - SUV VEHICLE

Kia Seems Overly Confident That It Will Soon Crack The Code To Affordable EVs

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Summary

  • Kia may beat Tesla in the affordable EV market.
  • EV development is like F1, R&D is key.
  • Timely R&D apparently gives Kia an edge in the EV race.



The race for the cheap, Honda Civic-priced electric vehicle (EV) is a hot topic right now, and while most of us were certain that Tesla would beat everyone to it, including the mighty Chinese carmakers, it turns out the challenge is a lot greater than we thought. Tesla recently announced that it would instead focus its business on robotaxis.

If Tesla can’t mass produce an EV the middle class can afford, then who can that’s not Chinese? Apparently, Kia, of all carmakers – and not its parent company Hyundai – has what it takes to steal everyone’s lunch money in that quest. At least, that’s what its COO seems to claim with a surprising level of confidence. In a recent interview with Automotive News, Steve Center explained that the carmaker is apparently about to crack the code for affordable EVs.


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Why The EV Race Is A Lot Like Formula 1

Kia EV9
Hyundai 

When people ask me why some carmakers seem to struggle with building truly competitive EVs, I often explain to them that electric vehicle development is a lot like formula 1. At the end of the day, the winner is the one that has invested the most in research and development (R&D). Sure, some will occasionally win out of pure heart and skill, but the rule of the thumb in F1 is the longer you’ve been in the game, the more chances you have of taking home pole position.

In that respect, Steve Center explains EV development in the same language. During his interview, he explained that since Kia (and the entire Hyundai group for that matter) have been mass-producing EVs longer than most of its rivals, it’s gained the experience and R&D to be ahead of the curve.


We’re ahead of most, and we’re trying to rush out ahead because our technology will be more evolved. You can’t just jump in and catch up. You have to have your own R&D, your own secret sauce. – Steve Center told Automotive News.

The Rules Of The Game Have Changed. Speed Is Key

Front of a red Kia EV6
Kia

Center didn’t mention a timeline as to when Kia will put on the market a truly affordable EV, but his points on starting R&D before everyone else make total sense. It’s what’s allowed Tesla to be ahead of the curve for over a decade, and why Honda, a carmaker that was and still is behind in the EV race, was forced to partner up with GM on its Prologue SUV.


The thing is, with EVs now overtaking their internal combustion (ICE) ancestors, the rules of the game have changed a lot. Since EVs are now mostly technological products instead of mechanical ones, their evolution has taken an entirely different path. Like the electronics sector, they need to increment a lot faster, or else they’ll quickly get gobbled up by the competition.

Rear of a red 2024 Kia EV6
Kia

Some would argue that the North American, European and even Chinese markets are experiencing an EV “cooldown”. Indeed, they are. Tesla’s Q1 results have slumbered, and the EV giant recently announced it would slash 10% of its workforce worldwide.


But that’s mostly due to the fact that EVs have entered the bulk of the thicker part of the new technology adoption curve. We’re no longer at the early adoption phase, but rather the mass-market stage. This means that the carmaker that will manage to dish out a truly affordable EV with adequate range, will take advantage of the current situation.

It’s still unclear if Kia will, in fact, make it ahead of its rivals, but if you want my honest opinion, I do believe the South-Korean carmakers could make it happen. They’ve so far had tremendous success with their older and newer-generation EVs, things like the Hyundai Kona Electric/Kia Niro EV and Hyundai IONIQ 5/Kia EV6. Each of them has been highly competitive in their respective space, but their price is still out of the reach of many. We’ll see how the Hyundai group plans on moving its chess pieces in the coming years, but the carmaker could indeed surprise us once more.

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