Kia Picanto could switch to pure-electric power
A battery-powered Kia Picanto is claimed to be in development but will only be green lit for production if the car-maker’s bean counters can find a way of slashing costs to make it affordable to buyers.
According to Kia Motor Europe’s COO, Emilio Herrera, it’s not a question if the car-maker will produce a zero-emission version of the Picanto but when.
Admitting it will be “a big challenger”, to Automotive News, Herrera added, “but sooner or later, we have to do it.”
The internal battle to produce a small electric vehicle, within Kia Herrera says, is reducing its sales price to at least €16,000 ($A26,000) – a price point Herrera thinks buyers (European, at least) would consider reasonable.
Currently, if it produced a Picanto EV tomorrow it would cost €20,000 (A$32,500) – twice what the entry-level petrol Kia supermini costs in Euro markets like Germany.
While even the world’s biggest car-maker, the Volkswagen Group, struggles to sell its VW e-Up or Skoda Citigo EV for less than €20,000, Herrera suggests it’s a huge problem for the whole industry.
Except for Renault.
At the Frankfurt motor show earlier this month the French car-maker said it would reveal a battery-powered car that would cost less than €10,000 ($A16,200) within five years, although Kia’s COO is not convinced that will be achievable.
Herrera: “I think that is a very bold statement because one of the most challenging things we have is to make all EVs profitable. And the smaller the car, the more complicated it is. So, to have a €10,000 EV in that time frame, I see it very challenging and not very realistic.”
Meanwhile, helping share the cost of the zero-emission Picanto, Herrera suggests that sister brand, Hyundai, would launch an identical (under the skin) i10 EV.
While other car-makers like Ford and Opel have already announced it will cull its small Ka+, Karl and Adam, Herrera said Kia would remain committed to small cars like the Picanto as in some markets, like Italy, they still account for more than 50 per cent of all cars sold and that demand for electric cars is only set to grow.
The Europe boss also said Kia remains committed to having an electric car in “almost every main segment.”
Herrera added that in 2019 in Europe alone the Kia brand will sell 20,000 battery-powered Soul and Niro SUVs, with the brand expecting to sell double that figure in 2020.
In fact, such is the demand in the northern hemisphere for the e-Niro and e-Soul Kia Australia has been forced to knock back the launch of both cars here until later 2020 or early 2021.