Electric vehicles affordable in three years: Kia
KIA will be selling competitively priced electric vehicles in Australia within three years, the company's local chief operating officer Damien Meredith says.
Meredith said the company had decided against importing hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles as an interim measure - a strategy that directly contrasts with sister brand Hyundai.
Hyundai will bring in three versions of its Ioniq nameplate - a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric car - this year, while an electric version of the Kona SUV will follow early in 2019.
"There will be a fair bit of movement on that front in the next couple of years. Our view is that we'll move to a range of EVs rather than go through the steps of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and EV, we'll move straight into EVs over the next couple of years," he says.
That promise comes despite the lukewarm reception to electric vehicles in Australia.
"If you look at the market and what's occurred in the market, there hasn't been great success there. I'm of the view that governments are going to have to make legislation to drive sales in these markets," he says.
But while other brands are lobbying for subsidies to boost sales, Meredith says Kia won't be putting its hand out to government.
"We think we might be able to ... go in with confidence with the product we've got based on market, not based on government legislation or government concessions," he says.
"We're not going to sell thousands of these vehicles straight away but we're taking the EV course rather than anything else.
"You'll find that we'll have a few EVs in play in three years' time," he says.
The approach is in direct contrast to market leader Toyota, which is focusing on introducing more hybrids rather than going down the full EV path.
"They're taking that direction and we're taking that direction. It's a VHS-Beta argument. Beta was better but guess what won," he says.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, Kia said it planned to launch 16 electrified vehicles by 2025.
It recently unveiled an EV concept based on its Niro plug-in hybrid and will eventually have access to a small SUV based on the same underpinnings as Hyundai's Kona EV.
It also plans a fuel cell vehicle by 2020, although Meredith says that while he's a fuel-cell proponent in the longer term, he has concerns about the infrastructure needed.
"It's a bit hard to sell cars people can't refuel and it's going to take a big investment before that's a reality in Australia."