Car manufacturers are looking to electrify the U.S. marketplace, introducing innovative new electric vehicles (EVs) to their lineups. One of the car industry leaders is the South Korean-headquartered Kia, which is bringing their newest model stateside in 2022.
The EV6 is Kia’s first electric SUV without a gas-powered or hybrid counterpart and will be the first vehicle to reflect the car company’s complete shift in brand identity. Kia is dropping the “Motors” in its name and introducing a new logo.
“We’re changing our name because we are no longer just about vehicles, we’re talking about sustainable mobility solutions,” explains Russell Wager, the vice president of marketing at Kia. “Part of that is electrification, and part of that is purpose-built vehicles.”
The first piece of the brand’s electrification comes in the form of the EV6, which Kia unveiled in Times Square in New York City on Tuesday night. An illuminated stage in the middle of the famed Father Duffy Square revealed two versions of the new model following a countdown that was projected across billboards around the square.
“Tonight is a big moment for Kia,” said Kia North America’s president and CEO SeungKyu Yoon during opening remarks. “The EV6 is the first vehicle to launch under our plan S, which stands for ‘shift’ … it marks a new and transformative era in Kia electrification. This shift is really a transformation of our company, and includes a $25 billion dollar investment into an electric future.”
Eliminating trade offs for new EV owners
As the market stands right now, plug-in vehicles account for just 2.3 percent of all car sales in the U.S. But this number be on the verge of a quantum leap as the Biden administration pushes for the move to EVs and car manufacturers introduce models that knock down barriers for wary consumers.
Wager says he hopes that the features in Kia’s EV6 will help solve some of the pain points potential consumers have said they need fixed before they dip their toes into the world of EVs. One of the biggest is charging time.
The performance version of the EV6, which will be available for purchase in 2022, gets up to 300 miles on a single charge — comparable to the performance version of the Tesla Model Y electric crossover.
Wager, who lives in Southern California, says he has seen firsthand dozens of electric cars charging up for an hour in between Los Angeles and local destinations such as Las Vegas or Napa Valley. A key selling point of the EV6 is the 800-volt system, which enables the car to go from a 10-percent charge to 80 percent in under 20 minutes.
The industry professional is also betting on the current administration to carry U.S. drivers into the future and start investing in electrified vehicles.
“If the [Biden] administration delivers on its infrastructure plan the way that they have outlined it, they’re saying by 2030 that we will have just as many charging stations in the country as there are gas stations,” says Wager. “That would essentially eliminate the idea of there being a trade-off when a consumer decides between a traditional car or an EV.”
Yesterday morning, President Biden confirmed his intentions to spur the manufacturing and sales of electrified vehicles in the U.S., saying, “The future of the auto industry is electric. There’s no turning back. The question is whether we will lead or we will fall behind in the race to the future.”
Another speed bump potential EV drivers have hit in the past is the price point, as the average cost of an EV runs about $19,000 more than a gas-powered one. In the last 10 years, however, battery prices have dropped by as much as 90 percent and continue to plummet so quickly that analysts are saying the purchase price of EVs will fall below that of gas-powered vehicles within the next five years.
Also to be considered is the nearly $7,500 in federal income tax credit that almost all electric and plug-in hybrid car owners are eligible for if their vehicle was purchased new in or after 2020, depending upon the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle.
A Consumer Reports analysis of electric vehicles shows that fuel savings alone can be more than $4,700 over the first seven years of ownership. Maintenance savings over the lifetime of an electric vehicle can range between $6,000 to $10,000.
“The most important impact we can provide to a customer is a more efficient vehicle,” says Wager. “That’s the best way to reduce our carbon impact, and that’s what we continually work towards.”