In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Kia Europe COO Emilio Herrera said the Imagine concept that debuted at this year’s Geneva Motor Show should turn into a production model “in one or two years.” Gregory Guillaime, Kia’s European VP of design, said the Imagine is a “large C-segment car” intentionally blurring the distinctions between body types, a press release describing the concept as “drawing together elements of a muscular sports utility vehicle, a sleek and athletic family saloon, and a versatile and spacious crossover.” Herrera didn’t give any details on how the production version will differ from the concept. Flourishes like the windshield glass flowing uninterrupted into the roof and the 21 interior screens aren’t likely to make it out of the studio.
We do know that Kia plans a new, pure EV architecture shared with Hyundai. This will support larger, more powerful electric offerings that boast more range than products like the Kia e-Niro and Soul EV. The e-Niro is rated at 282 miles on Europe’s WLTP cycle, it’s said Kia wants to hit 500 miles of range. The automaker would only say of the Imagine’s powertrain that it is “a low-mounted, induction-charged battery pack that powers a compact drivetrain.” More importantly, the powertrain will focus on performance, “approaching electrification purely from an emotional point of view,” and pitched by Autocar as competing against EVs like the Polestar 2.
As a C-segment competitor like the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, the chances of the Imagine making it to the U.S. are unknown. Herrera made his comments in a conversation about Europe’s impending CO2 emissions regulations. At one point, Herrera explained the five methods he sees for dealing with the emissions caps, and we can already divide automakers among those five tactics. The Imagine, and other Kia vehicles with alternative powertrains on the way, are how the Korean automaker will avoid fines.
The full interview is worth a read. Herrera lays out some of the difficulties in the EV landscape, such as achieving the necessary volumes, pricing, and battery supply, and explains why he doubts some competitor’s claims about launching inexpensive subcompact EVs.