Kia Seltos EV now expected in 2021; to focus on affordability

Kia Motors had confirmed that the Kia Seltos EV would debut this year in China (Kia KX3 EV) and was expected to take its place as Kia’s cheapest electric SUV. Due to disruption to business operations caused by the pandemic, the launch of the Seltos EV is likely to have been reprogrammed to 2021.

Instead of extensive cosmetic design changes for a unique appearance, the Seltos EV will likely be about a basic design and an attractive retail price. As portrayed in our exclusive rendering, the Kia Seltos EV is likely to feature minimal visual changes to remain as a budget electric vehicle. We expect both upper and lower grilles to be shut-off for enhanced aerodynamics, with the former getting a specially designed panel in body colour and with neat textures.

Kia Seltos EV (Kia Seltos Electric) rendering

The front bumper design on the Kia Seltos electric could be repurposed, as we’ve shown in our image. Blue highlights should be present to let onlookers know that it’s powertrain is fully electrified and thus eco-friendly. Distinctive 17-inch alloy wheels with enhanced aerodynamics are a given.

Kia Seltos EV Range & specifications

The Kia Seltos EV could be offered with the 64 kWh battery pack of the Hyundai Kona EV or the 56.5 kWh battery pack of the Kia K3 EV. There will be a single electric motor powering the front wheels. The maximum power should be rated between 135 kW (183 PS) to 150 kW (203.94 PS), with the torque output set at about 300 Nm. The Kia Seltos EV range is expected to be around 450 km (NEDC) and the charging ports are expected to be located together at the front as represented in our render.

Kia Electric Car strategy

The plan at least initially is selling the Seltos in the Chinese market. In countries with a significant demand for EVs, the Niro EV is already servicing, and the next generation 2022 Kia Niro is in the development stage with more advanced features. If there’s a country where the Kia Seltos EV increasingly makes sense, it’s India where the base car is manufactured and enjoys a high popularity.

The Kia Seltos Electric is likely to be revealed by end of April 2021 and should be manufactured at the Dongfeng Yueda Kia plant in the Jiangsu province.

Kia launched the Seltos in Korea and India in mid-2019 followed by China in late-2019 and USA in early 2020. These are the principal markets for the car where there is a growing appetite for crossover-SUVs and where the brand enjoys an aspirational status. The Seltos, alongside the Telluride, Sportage and Sorento is a key member of the SUV-driven model cycle of the Korean car brand. These were joined by the Kia Sonet (a platform derivative of the Hyundai Venue) this year, its ‘Strategic A-Segment SUV’ which has also dominated the base SUV segment.

Kia says that the operating model for EVs in emerging markets would be ICE-focused with selective introduction of electric cars which it calls ‘Derivative EV models’ that describes vehicles like the Kia Seltos EV born with an internal combustion engine.

Currently, the Seltos is available with diesel and naturally aspirated & turbocharged petrol variants. The vehicle is manufactured in three sites – China, South Korea and India. Without a doubt, China, with its pro-EV policies and high consumer demand for crossovers and electric cars, would receive the zero-emissions variant before other countries.

The regular Seltos is not offered in Europe as that segment is filled out by the Kia XCeed, the high-riding variant of the Kia Ceed. Moreover, Kia has the ZE crossover space quite well covered for the moment with the Kia Niro EV and the Kia Soul EV, and is to be joined by the E-GMP based Kia’ CV’ electric car with a 500 km range and 18 minute 80% charging time next year.

Also Read: Hyundai India plans new affordable electric vehicles through the ‘Smart EV’ project

Will Kia launch the Seltos EV in India?

Unlike Hyundai, Kia Motors has not introduced an electric vehicle in India (not counting the single unit of the Kia Niro that was handed to the Andhra Pradesh government for trial runs). The 100% made-in-India body and interior of the Seltos (a car that enjoys excellent brand equity in the market with over 100,000 units sold) paired with a locally assembled battery pack, motor and power electronics could prove as a test bed if nothing else once the demand for the conventional variants cool off.

Kia could consider this variant in 2022 once the charging infrastructure improves in the country and battery prices fall further. The company would also have a more robust supply chain for electrical vehicles by then.

Kia Motors is now focused on building its ICE-powered lineup, starting with the Sonet this year (Kia has a target of 110,000 units in the sales plan of the first year) which is to be followed by the ‘India Strategic New Model’ in 2021 that is assumed to be a mass-market MPV rivaling the Maruti Ertiga. The company has reported a positive response from the Indian public for the showcasing of the Kia Soul EV at the 2020 Auto Expo.