Kia and Rimac are two companies at opposite ends of the electric vehicle spectrum. Kia makes affordable compact crossover EVs, and Rimac makes million-dollar electric hypercars. But in the next couple of years, we’re going to find out what they can come up with together.
Last year, we learned Hyundai and Rimac were working together to make an electric mid-engine sports car, and now we get to see what Kia’s side of the partnership will be.
The 2019 Kia “Imagine” concept is being developed into a new halo electric vehicle performance model to get its own new nameplate by the end of next year, according to Pablo Martínez Masip, the head of Kia product planning, speaking to Autocar:
Speaking about the 2021 EV, Kia marketing chief Carlos Lahoz said: “This car will have a significant effect on how consumers perceive Kia and its part in future electrification. We want it to demonstrate super-high performance levels but in a package that is different. Today there are lots of A- and B-segment electric cars and many high-end electric cars; we want something different.
“We are not a premium brand, we are a mainstream brand, and we have to be true to that heritage. This car will be a halo and be priced as such, but it will demonstrate that you can get very high performance levels without having to pay the premium prices of, for instance, Tesla, BMW or Mercedes.”
The new model will sit on a new bespoke platform shared with Hyundai, and Autocar claims it will feature 800-volt electrical architecture for better fast-charging capability, and it should be able to charge from 20 to 80 percent capacity in just 20 minutes on a 350 kilowatt charger. The full range goal is said to be over 300 miles, which would be about 30 more than the electric Kia Niro currently has.
The more promising news is that Kia has partnered with Rimac on the car following Kia’s investment in the company, which itself makes high-performance EVs but is also an automotive supplier and responsible for engineering components found in many modern cars. Here’s more on that relationship, again from Autocar:
Emilio Herrera, Kia Europe’s chief operating officer, also raised the prospect of high-performance EV tech company Rimac, into which Kia has invested, working on all of the brand’s electric cars.
He said: “Performance became a bit of a dirty word in the late 1980s and the 1990s, but we think electric cars can be fun without guilt,” he said. “Look at Tesla: performance is a key part of what it offers, and we believe our electric cars should do that too. The goal is apply Rimac’s knowhow across our range and give great performance to our cars.”
The only bad news here is the possibility that Kia keeps the “Imagine” nameplate for the new model, and the fact that it will indeed be another electric crossover.
But regardless, I’m excited at the prospect of a more attainable EV performance model. While the best Teslas and Porsche Taycans are way too far out of reach for most of us, the idea that Kia may be able to sell something fun even more affordable than the recently announced Mustang Mach-E electric crossover is extremely exciting. I just hope it takes on better than the Kia Stinger did, as far as performance halo cars go.