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Democratising EV technology is the only way to drive adoption, guest opinion

 Sjoerd Knipping, product and planning director at Kia Europe

It’s been good news for manufacturers of electric vehicles (EVs) recently.

Global sales accelerated in 2020, when over three million found homes, a healthy 43% rise over 2019. Worldwide, there are now over 10 million EVs on our roads.

More of us are attracted to the benefits they bring, whether it’s their refined driving experience, strong acceleration, zero emissions or lower running costs.

Meanwhile, many governments are continuing to introduce policies designed to tackle carbon emissions head-on by encouraging the uptake of EVs through incentives.

Despite these efforts, it’s clear the EV revolution is still yet to find traction amongst the vast majority of new car buyers.

Today, just 10.2% of the European new car market relates to the sale of EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles. What’s clear is we remain a long way from EVs becoming truly mainstream.

Why the slow take-up?

The answer to this lies largely in price, market positioning and product capability. Many of today’s ‘affordable’ EVs are compact in size.

These vehicles are ideal for those who live in urban areas and travel shorter distances; however, a reduced driving range can often limit their effectiveness in more rural and remote locations.

On the other hand, EVs that are more spacious and can offer a 300-mile-plus range tend to be priced out of reach for many consumers, often by premium brands.

Many of these more expensive models are also offering fast charge capabilities, providing added convenience come recharge time.

Car manufacturers, particularly those with mass market appeal, need to offer consumers the best of both worlds.

They need to introduce EVs that can fit into people’s everyday lives, without compromise.

then will EVs become truly mainstream and attract the majority of people who have yet to make the switch to electric.

When designing and developing the Kia EV6, we set out to introduce a spacious, yet stylish family crossover that would feature the same high-tech touring capabilities as the more premium EVs. As such, we decided on advanced 800V fast-charging capabilities, allowing drivers to charge 80% of the car’s battery in just 18 minutes, quicker than most smart phones. We combined this with a range of over 510 kilometers for true touring convenience.

While enabling people to charge their EVs quickly is key to ensuring widespread uptake, so too is having access to a reliable and extensive public charging infrastructure.

Today, EV owners are increasingly turning up at public chargers to find they’re not working. The result? Increased anxiety about their vehicle’s remaining range.

By establishing a reliable, extensive and connected public charging network, where drivers can make contactless payment by a fully integrated app, where there is no stress of having to locate compatible chargers, we will succeed in making EV ownership a viable option.

By democratising these technologies and making them more attainable, more people will be able to benefit from the added capabilities of these next-generation EVs.

Only then will we see EVs become truly mainstream.

Author: Sjoerd Knipping, product and planning director at Kia Europe

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