The people have spoken, and pretty much across the world, they want more affordable electric vehicles. They also want EVs with lots of range that can haul all of their stuff comfortably and charge up quickly so they can get back on the road without any hassles. Obviously, that's a lot to ask. But Kia may have just stepped up to the plate with an answer to almost all of those requests: the new, compact Kia EV3, which promises a high-range, affordable electric experience at last. 

Gallery: Kia EV3 2024

Not even nine months after the concept debuted at Kia's EV Day event in Korea, the nearly identical production version was unveiled today in Kia's home country. But the EV3 is going global. It's set to go on sale in Korea in July, then in Europe toward the end of this year and in the U.S. in 2025. 

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Kia aims to make "EVs for all"

Though it shares hardware with corporate parent Hyundai, Kia is growing even more quickly and wants to be a dominant player in the global EV race. It's establishing battery and EV plants all over the world as it expands its lineup, which now includes the more affordable EV3.

Kia EV3 GT-Line

And when it does, the specs Kia is "targeting" sound extremely compelling: up to 300 miles of range for the U.S. (and 560 kilometers globally) with a family price range of $35,000 to $50,000. In doing so, the EV3 could go mainstream in ways even Kia's current offerings have not yet. 

The EV3 "underscores our determination to create world-leading electric vehicles that are accessible for all," Kia President and CEO Ho-Sung Song told journalists in a briefing this week. "EV6 and EV9 established Kia as a key player in the global EV market, and EV3 is poised to extend EV ownership to a much broader group of customers." 

That would especially be the case with the EV3, where Kia is targeting 70,000 to 80,000 U.S. sales annually, which would put this compact EV among its top-selling cars. 

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Like those cars, the EV3 uses the Hyundai Motor Group's E-GMP global electric car platform, but manages to be its smallest one yet. At about 169 inches (4,300 mm) in length and 61 inches (1,560 mm) tall, it's about on par size-wise with the previous Mini Countryman and smaller than the current Kia Seltos.

Kia EV3

But that size puts it in rare company in the electric space; few modern examples of EVs exist at this size outside of China, and certainly not with such promising specs. And that size and price don't mean it's some bargain basement, rental-grade penalty box; with vehicle-to-load (V2L) technology that can charge various devices and a new ChatGPT-based AI assistant set to roll out on other Kia models, it could rewrite what we expect from small, affordable cars.

Gallery: Kia EV3 Base

The Specs We Know

Kia says the EV3 will come with two battery packs available: a 58.3 kWh unit for the Base model, and an 81.4 kWh one for the Long Range model. The former is the same size as the one used on the entry-level, rear-wheel drive Kia EV6 Light. The latter is almost as large as the biggest pack in the updated EV6, an 84 kWh unit. In other words, this small car is packing a serious battery, especially in top form. 

Both models use a 150 kW (aka 202 horsepower) motor to drive the front wheels. The zero to 60 mph time is said to be 7.5 seconds.

Kia EV3 Interior

However, the EV3 uses a more cost-effective 400-volt electric architecture than the 800V one in the more expensive EV6 and other Hyundai and Genesis models. That usually means slightly slower charging times, but Kia says the battery to charge from 10-80% in approximately 31 minutes—not too bad. 

DC fast charging is said to peak around 128 kW—down from the EV6's peak DC-fast charging rate of about 225 kW, which can go from 10 to 80 percent in under 18 minutes when plugged into a 350-kW fast-charger. Kia officials told our colleagues at Motor1 Italy that this was done to get a flatter overall charging curve so that power stays consistent at 128 kW and doesn't dramatically drop off as some EVs do. Still, Kia claims the EV3 will be a distance runner, able to drive driving from Paris to Geneva on a single charge.

Kia EV3 GT-Line

Interestingly, the EV3 is also front-wheel drive, unlike the EV6, EV9, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and others. But it will offer a more upscale GT-Line model at launch and an eventual GT  performance-focused dual-motor all-wheel-drive model.

The EV3 also boasts the latest iteration of Kia's i-Pedal 3.0 regenerative braking system, a tweak of the system in existing cars now upgraded to "reduce fatigue on long drives." More details on that as we get it.

Gallery: Kia EV3 GT-Line

Design And Tech

In terms of design, the EV3 should look quite familiar. It apes the EV9 and the EV5 midsize crossover sold in China, but in a smaller overall package. "We relaunched the brand in 2021, and we're trying to make sure, from the design point of view, that we are physically creating the brand values in the product," said Karim Habib, Kia's global design chief. "So that's why consistency is important."

Kia EV3 Interior

Inside, there's a lot of commonality with the EV9 as well—lots of physical buttons to complement the dual 12.3-inch touchscreens. The interior also boasts a sliding table for laptops and other gadgets and a storage area for backpacks, snacks and other gear. There's also a small "frunk" storage area up front, and it looks to be a little bigger than the tiny one used on the EV6 and others. 

Kia says the EV3 incorporates many recycled materials and biologically derived components inside and out. The dashboard is made from sugar cane, and the plastic body cladding panels are partially made from recycled plastic bottles.

Kia EV3 Interior

Kia also says the EV3 will come with its first-ever in-car AI assistant, derived from OpenAI's ChatGPT. While generative AI remains in its relative infancy, the feature is becoming more and more common on modern vehicles. Here, it's used to provide navigation assistance, things like restaurant recommendations and help with various other productivity tools. With over-the-air updates, the assistant is also said to get better over time.

Gallery: Kia EV3 Live Impressions

What's Next

Clearly, there's still a lot we don't know about the Kia EV3, especially about its North American launch. The exact EPA-estimated range, charging times, and prices should be released closer to the car's launch here, which Kia says will be next year. 

When it does, it will enter the "affordable but modern" EV segment relatively early. Over the next year or so, that segment will include the Chevrolet Equinox EV, the reborn Chevrolet Bolt EUV, and potentially a smaller, cheaper Tesla model as well. 

Given Kia's aggressive EV push and its critical success with the EV9 so far, the EV3 also seems poised to be a winner. Until more competitors come along, it may end up being the affordable compact EV to beat. 

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