Kia’s new boss has detailed an aggressive, $25 billion plan to electrify much of its lineup by 2025 and change its brand image. Hosung Song, promoted to President in March, wants to move faster than parent company Hyundai into EVs and PBVs, or purpose-built vehicles, better suited to how he believes cars will be used in the future.
In an interview with Automotive News, Song said that Kia’s “Plan S” will offer 11 electric-only models by mid-decade, comprising 6.6% of the global EV market share and generating 20% of Kia’s own sales. By then, Song believes the total cost of ownership for electric and internal combustion cars will be about the same, as ICEs require more maintenance and fuel costs are projected to rise.
Not only that, but by 2026 Song wants Kia to sell half a million battery-electric vehicles, as well as another half-million hybrids, PHEVs and other “green” offerings. By 2027, Kia will have seven models powered exclusively by electrons. Then, by 2029, a full quarter of Kia’s sales will be from EVs.
As for PBVs, Kia describes them as vehicles specifically designed for ride-hailing services, as autonomous taxis and e-commerce delivery-bots. They will be used primarily in urban centers and feature autonomous tech, as cities around the world change the rules for cars and car ownership.
The new plans dovetail with Kia’s desire to appeal to a younger customer base. However, Song told AN that he also wants to move the brand upmarket, which may conflict with the utilitarian, robo-taxi image that PBVs will foster.
Finally, ushering in this new era will be a revamped Kia logo. According to AN, Kia will dispense with the name-in-an-oval badge that has been in use since 1994. Instead, the new branding will resemble the stylized name, sans oval, found on the Kia Imagine concept revealed at Geneva in 2019.
As for the “S” in Plan S, Kia says that it stands for “shift,” as in a shift “from a business system focused on internal combustion engine vehicles toward one centered on electric vehicles and customized mobility solutions.”