Not to sound like a broken record, but securing a solid supply of batteries will make or break any company that will wish to produce electric cars. Now you would think Kia, who has LG Chem, one of the largest battery producers in the world, down the street from their HQ would have no problem getting enough batteries. However that does not seem to be the case, and these battery shortages might continue for a while.
Last week Electrek interviewed Steve Kosowski, manager of long-range planning and strategy at Kia Motors America, to get an understanding of were Kia is with their EV production, particularly with North America.
Unfortunately for us in America, it looks like Europe will continue to be a higher priority due to Kia and Hyundai’s need to meet stricter emissions regulations.
“The priority is Europe. If we could get more [electric] cars here, we would sell them. My sense is that we would probably sell 2x or 3x what we currently sell. But we’re expecting, probably on the back half of 2020, to get a lot more Kia Niro EVs dedicated to the United States.”
Kosowski stated that Kia is subject to the same shortages that other brands such as Audi and Jaguar are experiencing. Additionally, he would go on to explain that the reasoning for the delay of the new 243-mile Kia Soul EV is that given their limited battery allocations, they would rather put it into one model (being the Kia Niro EV) instead of splitting up the already small amount of batteries between two models.
So while Kia will continue to try and provide the Niro EV to the US, the new Soul EV is still at the very least a year away.
At the end of the day, we can’t blame Kia for prioritizing Europe over the United States given the great difference in emissions standards between the two continents and the huge fines for not meeting the standards. Until the US gets stronger on emissions it looks like we will have to come to terms with the limited availablity of early electric vehicles in the United States.
When asked why Kia just didn’t simply account for more batteries, Kosowskit simply responded:
The short answer is: I don’t have an answer. To be frank, it’s a little surprising that here we are, and now we have supply issues for the globe and Europe.
Guess its better from a business aspect to not have enough batteries rather than overestimating demand and be on the hook for huge battery contracts.
If you are United States-based and were really hyped for the new electric Kia Soul, you still have a long wait.
Read the full interview here.