The new Kia Picanto city car might morph into an electric vehicle if the Korean automaker can find a way to make it affordable.
A small battery-electric city car is going to be “a big challenge”, according to Emilio Herrera, Kia Europe’s COO to AutoNews. “But sooner or later, we will have to do it.”
The industry is currently trying to figure out their small-car strategy in Europe as emission regulations get tougher, forcing car makers to add expensive new technology to cars with already small profit margins. Ford has already announced that they will stop offering the Ka+ in the region, while Opel is axing the Karl and Adam models from its range.
VW Group is reportedly going to replace the VW Up-Skoda Citigo-Seat Mii trio of city cars with battery-electric models only. Seat is responsible for the development of small EVs within the Group that will cost under 20,000 euros ($22k in current exchange rates). VW’s boss Herbert Diess admitted that their most affordable EV model is unlikely to arrive before 2023.
Renault is also working on an entry-level electric vehicle with a target price of 10,000 euros ($11k in current exchange rates), hoping to launch it in the European market within the next five years.
Herrera however remains sceptical of Renault’s ambitions. “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-euro EV in that time frame, I see it very challenging and not very realistic,” he said.
Nothing is decided yet about a battery electric Picanto but Kia is actively looking at it, added Herrera. If it gets the green light, the Kia Picanto EV must will target a price tag of between 16,000 to 17,000 euros ($17.600 to $18.700).
As for why would Kia take up such a difficult challenge, Herrera said “Because mini and small cars are so important in Europe. In countries such as Italy they account for 50 percent of the market, so I think we will have to have a battery electric minicar”.