“Kia has achieved annual sales of more than four million units by popularising eco-friendly vehicles,” is the environmental tune played by Ho Sung Song, president and group CEO.
As of 2022, the net worth of the South Korean company hovered between $US20-30 billion, which was music to Misutā Song’s ears and his corporate vision – “people, planet and profit”.
The core business aim is to accelerate electrification by achieving annual sales of four million EV units by 2030.
This means expanding autonomous driving technologies to all new Kia vehicles.
Kia’s electric-car onslaught starts with the EV9 large SUV, the production version of the Concept EV9 revealed late last year, and the largest vehicle based on the Hyundai-Kia group’s dedicated electric architecture.
Kia says the production model EV9 SUV will measure 5 m, with a 540 km range on a single charge with fast charging good for 100 km in six minutes.
The claim is a 0-100km/h sprint in five seconds, a similar performance to a Kia Stinger twin-turbo V6.
The smaller and more aerodynamic Kia EV6 GT, tested this week, is capable of a 500 km driving range and adds 100 km of range in four minutes, indicating the EV9 will come with a significantly larger battery.
With 430 kW and 740 Nm, the EV6 GT is Kia’s most powerful – and most expensive – production car yet, quoting a 0-100km/h time of 3.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 260 km/h.
As standard, it comes fitted with the long-range 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which Kia says is good for 500 km.
It can be charged from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes.
Key to the performance gains is a new rear electric motor that lifts power by 63% compared to the rear motor fitted to regular EV6 models.
Kia’s Australian engineering team has done extensive work tuning the suspension and steering systems for Aussie roads.
The other big upgrade mechanically is the braking system.
Up front are 380 mm ventilated discs with four-piston callipers, while there are 360 mm vented discs at the rear.
That’s up on the 325 mm front and rear units on the standard EV6 and contributes to a 2 m decrease in stopping distance from 100-0km/h compared to the GT-Line.
On the topic of oversteer potential, there’s ‘drift mode’ that can send up to 100% of power to the rear “for unconstrained sideways action,” and then the drive can be distributed back to the front wheels on exit to improve grip and acceleration.
Kia has upgraded cooling performance with a coil pack flushed with oil in addition to the existing water cooling for the electric motor.
This helps to maintain stable temperatures even in extreme conditions and during sustained high-speed operation.
Other measures include reinforcing the bearing cage and permanent magnet arrangement in the rear performance motor’s structure, which the company says helps to manage the increases in heat, centrifugal forces and the noise and vibration generated when the rear motor operates at its upper limits.
There are new springs as well, which are 9% softer at the front and 11% stiffer at the rear compared to the standard European model resulting in a 5 mm lower ride height with a 15% stiffer rear anti-roll bar.
The EV6 GT also gets a unique variable gear ratio steering system, which quotes 2.3 turns lock-to-lock for the GT compared to 2.67 for the standard EV6.
The front sports bucket seats are unique to the EV6 and are heavily contoured for comfortable driving in any condition.
Whereas the GT-Line has electric front seats with heating and cooling, the GT’s leather and suede seats are adjusted manually and have no cooling.
Kia says this is to save a few kilograms in what is already a 2185 kg car, 80kg heavier than the GT-Line AWD.
At around $100,000, the EV6 GT becomes the most expensive model ever offered by the Korean brand in Australia – $12,000 more than the EV6 GT-Line.
Key rivals include the Tesla Model Y Performance at $94,900, which offers 393 kW, and the entry-level BMW i4 eDrive40 for $99,900.
Kia plans to introduce 14 EV models by 2027, including two new utes and a large seven-seat SUV.
An increase from a target of 11 EVs by 2027 announced a year ago, Kia now tells investors it plans to sell 807,000 electric cars in 2026, increasing to 1.2 million a year by the end of the decade, and will reveal at least two new EVs each year between 2023 and 2024.