Kia Australia has elected to skip hybrids and plug-in hybrids and will instead dive straight into battery electric vehicles as part of its low-emission vehicle strategy.
The company’s chief operating officer Damien Meredith confirmed in March that it would launch the e-Niro small crossover and the fully electric version of the new-generation Soul in January next year, in time for the Australian Open tennis championship of which it is the main sponsor.
Mr Meredith said the coming Kia EVs would be “exceptionally well-priced”. A further two battery electric models are in development and being considered for an Australian launch.
Globally, Kia plans to launch 44 electrified models – which includes hybrids and plug-in hybrids as well – by 2025.
Volkswagen significantly ramped up its development of low-emissions vehicles in the wake of the diesel emissions cheating scandal from 2015.
Since then, the German giant has invested heavily in its electrification strategy, with 44 billion euros earmarked for the development of electric vehicles, autonomous technology and new mobility services by 2023.
VW has already revealed a number of concept cars that will fall under its ‘ID’ sub-brand of battery electric production vehicles. VW Australia says some of these vehicles, including the Golf-sized ID.3 hatch, will start to arrive in Australia after launching in Europe, China and the US. So expect the local roll out to kick off from about 2022.
The company is hoping to offer electric passenger and commercial vehicles that will be priced in line with equivalent petrol and diesel models from 2022, but a representative said this timing could push out given “the lack of clear and detailed government policy”.
Other ID models include the ID Buzz, a modern take on the iconic Kombi, the ID Crozz SUV and the ID Vizzion premium sedan.
Nissan announced in its mid-term plan last year that it aims to sell one million electrified vehicles annually by 2022. The plan includes eight new pure electric models, including an all-electric crossover based on its IMx concept from the 2017 Tokyo motor show.
In Australia, Nissan announced last year that it would electrify one third of its model line-up as part of its local mid-term plan.
As well as the second-generation Leaf electric hatchback that launches in August, Nissan will add other models with electrified powertrains. The Japanese car-maker is yet to officially announce it, but that is likely to include a number of its e-Power models.
The e-Power system has similar technology to Holden’s Volt in that it uses a petrol engine to charge the battery. The wheels are driven solely by the electric motor, unlike in a traditional petrol-electric hybrid powertrain where the wheels are driven by the electric motor and the engine.
Nissan is expected to announce more e-Power models globally and for Australia in the coming years. Last year, the Note e-Power, a light hatchback not sold in Australia, was the best-selling vehicle in Japan.
Holden’s parent company General Motors has announced its plans to bring at least 20 new fully electric vehicles globally – with a big focus on the US and China – to market by 2023.
In some markets it offers the Chevrolet Bolt BEV hatch and the Volt range-extender plug-in, but GM has confirmed that production of the latter model will cease this year. The Volt was sold in Australia with Holden badges from 2012 to 2015 but was dropped due to slow sales.
While Holden is yet to announce any firm plans for EVs in Australia, a spokesperson for the brand pointed towards GM’s global EV strategy and “Holden’s ability to readily tap into that technology as the Australian and NZ market evolves”.
Honda has set a target for 100 per cent of its model lines to have some form of electrification by 2025 in Europe, but the Australian targets are a little more conservative. The Japanese car-maker was one of the pioneers in the hybrid space, launching the quirky Insight back in 2000, followed by a number of other hybridised models that have since been discontinued.
The Australian target is for 25 per cent of its line-up to be electrified via hybrid or BEV by 2025. The first model in this next phase of Honda’s electrification strategy will be the Accord sedan that’s due to arrive later this year.