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EV uptake sees Kia Australia keen for more

Kia Australia eager to receive new PBV and EV5 electric models as EV market share grows

25 Jan 2024

KIA Australia says it is keen to expand its new energy vehicle (NEV) range Down Under, with uptake of its newly introduced electric models performing well.


Seeking to expand the local arm’s battery electric vehicle (BEV) range – while continuing to offer internal combustion engine (ICE), hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and even plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) models – Kia Australia general manager of product planning Roland Rivero said the growing acceptance of electric models by Australian buyers will see a broadening of NEV offerings in the very near future.


“The EV5 is not too far away. We have started the tuning work for ride and handling with our R&D centre in China, but there is still some more work that needs to be done (before the model is ready for sale here) and we should see that product arrive here in the middle part of the year, or early in the third quarter” he detailed.


Mr Rivero said Kia Australia is also keen to take selected body styles of the newly debuted PBV range, saying the model roll-out aligns well with its local support of Kia’s broader Plan S electric vehicle transition program.


“The PBV concepts fall under the greater ‘Plan S’ strategy, and I think we’ve always been pretty vocal about Australia’s support for the global planning strategy,” he continued.


“We do have our hand up for the body styles we believe will be right for our market and more information will be provided on that in due course.”


Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the facelifted Sorento SUV this week, Mr Rivero said sales of Kia’s EV range has started to prove fruitful, with sales of the EV6 particularly noteworthy in taking some of the volume lost to the demise of its Stinger sports sedan.


“Essentially, some of the volume that we have lost to Rio has moved into the likes of Picanto, Stonic and Cerato, while in a similar fashion – and interestingly – the EV6 has become something of a ‘spiritual successor’ to the Stinger,” he said.


“The EV6 is doing quite well for us at the moment. Over the past few months, we’ve been averaging around 250 sales per month – which is right up there with our best months of Stinger.”


The trend seems to be one that is expanding to other segments in the range.


Mr Rivero said some models Kia Australia had projected to sell slowly were ‘surprising’ company forecasters, with Niro one of the better sellers, especially with fleet buyers.


“Slowly but surely other EV models will take up some of the space once occupied by ICE models … EV6 is going better than we expected, and certainly even the Niro is doing well – and that’s despite appetite for the model being higher in other countries where regulations make it a more attractive proposition,” he detailed.


“The price point of the Niro is quite high, so we didn’t expect much (in terms of sales volume) out of Niro if I can be honest with you. What did surprise us was the demand that came through from our fleet customers.


“Some of that comes from buyers not wanting to wait for vehicles to arrive from other manufacturers, while on the EV side, those that are looking to evolve their fleet and project a green car image were certainly not hesitant to jump into a Niro.


“So, suddenly, Niro has become quite an important model for us … and the volume projections that we thought it was going to do, well, let’s just say it’s done a whole lot better.”


Interestingly, and in addition to drawing fleet buyers to the range, Mr Rivero said it was also noted that the growth of NEVs within the Kia range was serving to attract a new demographic to the range.


He said many prestige owners were looking to the EV9 when it came time to trade, while a more mature audience was attracted to the EV6 – marking a significant shift in the average age of the typical Kia buyer.


“What became apparent rather quickly, especially with the EV6, was that it is a more mature demographic than Kia Australia has seen in the past,” he remarked.


“We have seen quite a few buyers in the 60 (years) and above range purchase an EV6, which is interesting, and the majority of those are customers who have never owned a Kia product before.


“Interestingly, these buyers have come predominantly from German performance marques, in particular Mercedes-AMG and BMW M. They are well researched, and want something that is not only sporty, but that isn’t parked in their neighbour’s driveway as well.


“I guess you’d say they’re young at heart,” he grinned.


While battery electric vehicles may feel like flavour of the month at Kia Australia, the brand’s senior staff said it was keen to remain circumspect about the shift to new energy vehicles.


Underlining its commitment to customers in both metropolitan and regional areas, Kia Australia chief operating officer Dennis Piccoli said the brand would continue to offer a variety of powertrains until such time as emissions regulations made the strategy prohibitive.


“Our understanding of the planned changes to Euro 6 (emissions standards) is that these will come into effect from December 2025 for new models, and December 2028 for existing models,” he outlined.


“So, we will launch several models – including the dual-cab ute – well before that deadline.


“The same goes for the Sorento PHEV. It is already homologated and we have every intention of bringing it in. We have no intention of deleting the plug-in hybrid option,” he added.


Kia is set to offer a total of 11 BEVs globally by the end of next year (2025) and is targeting a 6.6 per cent global EV market share within that timeframe.


The brand is set to reach a 25 per cent share of all its sale from NEVs by the end of 2025, and says it is targeting annual sales of 500,000 EVs and 1,000,000 NEVs by 2026.


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