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During the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, many automakers showed off their latest concepts. A bit of a change this year, nearly every brand was also there to present a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle (EV). Out of all of them though, the one brand to stand out was Kia Motors. Their concept, Imagine by Kia, was more like a presentation of what Kia Motors will become going forward. The Korean automaker might just become the next all-electric car manufacturer. Judging by an interview InsideEVs.com had with Alper Celik, Senior Product Manager for Kia Motors Europe at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.
When it comes to an auto brand like Kia Motors and going all-electric, there are a few factors to take note of. (1) Kia has multiple long-range EVs on sale today (Kia Niro EV and Soul EV); (2) Kia now has a dedicated, all-electric platform; (3) every vehicle they showed at Geneva was some form of alternative fuel vehicle, from hybrid to EV; and (4) Kia aims to make all-electric vehicles more affordable. That’s read as “non-premium”, and non-premium cars are much more affordable than another well-known all-electric automaker, read as Tesla.
Celik admitted that Nissan, Tesla, Audi, and other automakers were ambitious with their electric vehicles, but he seems pretty confident Kia will be successful.
“What I’m saying is that Kia is doing it in a more accessible way, opening up a big door to mainstream customers…What Kia does with EVs is important for the whole industry.” - Celik
Every goal doesn’t come without its challenges though. At the moment, the supply for lithium-ion batteries is very limited. LG Chem, SK Innovation, Panasonic, and Tesla are the main players, and capacity is limited. Plus, many of them have lists of OEMs that they already supply, making it much more difficult for Kia Motors to get into the all-electric game. The automaker is currently in negotiations, but they may want to set their sights on startups.
Earlier, we discussed the “Future of EVs and EV Batteries”. Many traditional electronics makers, car companies, and many of the tech giants mentioned above are also working towards making lithium-ion batteries more powerful. A lot of the research is focused on making batteries more dense, able to store more energy and store more of it faster. The problem this represents is a buildup of heat. When an EV or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) charges the battery, the anode and a cathode of a lithium-ion battery creates resistance in the form of heat, and the faster the charge, the more heat will build up, resulting in an explosion.
Christina Lampe-Onnerud, the founder and CEO of Cadenza Innovation, is addressing this issue by focusing on the outside of the power cell versus its interior. In fact, Cadenza is one of many startups, including Fisker, QuantumScape, Solid Power, and Romeo Power, that are working to improve battery tech as a whole before trying to introduce more power. Similarly, BMW supplier Sila Nanotechnologies is one of several companies currently investigating the materials within battery cells and modifying them to increase energy storage by 20-percent or more.
Kia Motors has a lot on its plate if looking to go all-electric, but with many companies working to improve lithium-ion battery technology, it might be the perfect time to start. Keep up with news on Kia Motors by following us on NowCar social media.