Kia might soon use lithium-ion batteries from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) in its electric cars sold domestically in South Korea.
According to Reuters, Hankook Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unnamed Kia official, that CATL has been selected as a battery supplier for the electric Kia Niro crossover/SUV.
Update: Reuters has confirmed the news on June 23.
Nonetheless, it would an interesting thing, as so far Kia and Hyundai (both part of the Hyundai Motor Group) were using domestically produced batteries for its electric cars in the South Korean market.
The question is, what caused the eventual decision to add CATL on top of LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation's SK On? The article suggests "cost-competitiveness," which would not surprise us much in the current challenging times. It would also indicate that CATL offered a better deal than others.
"The automaker also factored in cost-competitiveness when making its decision, the report said."
The decision, as always, for sure includes also other things like available manufacturing capacity for a particular battery type, and a willingness to add CATL as a supplier on a small scale, which in turn adds some pressure to negotiations with domestic battery suppliers.
South Korea is fortunate to have three lithium-ion battery manufacturers, among the largest EV suppliers - LG Energy Solution, SK Innovation's SK On and Samsung SDI. Each of them already attracted high-profile orders from multiple global carmakers and are in a rapid expansion phase.
The new Kia Niro EV (e-Niro) is equipped with a 64.8 kWh battery (net value) and WLTP range of 463 km (288 miles). There is also a plug-in hybrid version, with an 11.1 kWh battery (up from 8.9 kWh used in the previous generation), which is expected to go up to 65 km (40 miles) in the EV mode.
The all-electric Niro inherited from the previous generation a 150 kW electric motor driving the front wheels.
Both the BEV and PHEV versions should be an interesting addition to the Kia EV6.