Pure electric Kia Picanto may be introduced in Europe

Kia plans to have a pure electric variant for every model that it makes, and the tiny A-segment Picanto hatch is no exception, if the automaker can find ways to reduce costs to make it affordable, Automotive News Europe reports.

Kia Europe’s CEO, Emilio Herrera said a battery-powered Picanto will be “a big challenge. But sooner or later, we will have to do it.” At the moment, nothing is confirmed yet, but Kia is said to be really considering the project.

With stricter emissions regulations, many automakers are rethinking the strategies for small car sales in Europe. The cars aren’t very profitable, so adding costly new technologies to further reduce emissions isn’t quite a feasible move. As a result, Ford will stop selling the Ka+ in the region, while Opel will drop the Karl and Adam models.

The Volkswagen Group is tipped to replace the Volkswagen Up!, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii with pure electric models, whereas Seat has been tasked with developing small EVs for the group that will cost less than 20,000 euros (RM92k) each.

Pure electric Kia Picanto may be introduced in Europe

Speaking of low-cost EVs, Renault at the Frankfurt motor show revealed that it is working on an affordable EV car that will cost under 10,000 euros (RM46k), which will be launched within the next five years. Herrera is skeptical of this, though.

“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.

Currently, the Picanto with a petrol engine starts at 10,290 euros (RM47k) in Germany but drops to 10,000 euros (RM46k) with discounts, Herrera said. A fully equipped version can sell for more than 17,000 euros (RM78k), whereas a Picanto EV would currently cost close to 20,000 euros. Herrera said Kia needs to reduce production costs for a Picanto EV to 16,000 to 17,000 euros (RM78k).

He also added that car brands should not rely on government incentives that push EV sales by offering discounts between its combustion-engine counterparts, because in the future EVs will be sold in far greater numbers, making it way too costly to incentivise.

In Europe, mini and small cars are important. Herrera said the segments occupies a 50% market share in Italy, and a JATO Dynamics study revealed that both segments command 26% of the EU market.

Meanwhile, Kia currently sells EV versions of the Soul and Niro crossovers in Europe. At the going rate, the company is expected to sell around 20,000 units of the pair in Europe this year, and plans to double that figure next year, Herrera said.

GALLERY: Kia Picanto GT Line at KLIMS 2018