Kia has demonstrated that it can create winning electric vehicles like the EV6 GT and three-row EV9. But it also believes it's about to be ahead of rivals in making affordable EVs—the next great frontier for the electric world. Now, with the upcoming EV3 subcompact crossover and the EV4 sedan, Kia expects to see significantly increased EV adoption, an executive said in a recent interview.

According to Kia America COO Steve Center, who spoke with Automotive News, “We're ahead of most, and we're trying to rush out ahead because our technology will be more evolved. You can't just jump in and catch up. You have to have your own R&D, your own secret sauce.”

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Kia's major EV push is underway

The Korean automaker wants to make "EVs for all," and that includes many more models. In some ways, it's already there. The most affordable EV that Kia sells in the US is the Niro EV, which starts at under $40,000 before any rebates and incentives.

The production version of the EV3 crossover is expected to debut early this summer, and the EV4 should be revealed sometime after that. Automotive News also speculates the EV3 could be priced around $32,000 if it ends up coming to the U.S.—a price tag that very few modern electrics can match. 

Gallery: Kia EV3 Debut In South Korea

Bringing the cost of EVs down is a key concern for all automakers, but Kia wants to establish itself as a leader in affordable EVs with many of its upcoming models. Its main rival in this endeavor isn’t another established automaker or even Tesla, which reportedly shifted focus away from the development of its $25,000 EV, but Chinese giants like BYD, Geely and Nio, whose offerings are priced very keenly while offering comparable quality to EVs from the established players.

Gallery: Kia EV4 Debut In South Korea

Chinese EVs have an almost insignificant presence in the US today, but many carmakers from China have plans to expand into the States like they’re already doing in parts of Europe. By the time they reach the US, though, Kia expects to have a big chunk of the EV market to itself, especially at the more affordable end of the market.

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Center spoke about the $7,500 federal tax credit and noted that “when you look at the market, the [current] buyers are wealthier, and their incomes phase them out of the rebate if they buy [the vehicle]. But if they lease the car, which most of them do anyway, they get the rebate. When you're building affordable EVs in the U.S., the rebate will appeal more to households with less income.”

Kia has only announced plans to build one EV in the US, its most expensive electric offering, the EV9, which will roll off the assembly line at its factory in Buford, Georgia. It has not announced any official plans to build another EV there or open up a new production facility elsewhere in the country, but Center’s statement makes it sound like this is being considered so that its affordable EVs become even more attractive thanks to the significant federal rebate.

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