A Halo With Value: EV Range-topper Carves Out New Role for Kia

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
a halo with value ev range topper carves out new role for kia

A lofty, high-performance electric vehicle currently headed down the Kia product pipeline is, like all EVs, something of a gamble. For the mainstream Korean automaker, it’s also a departure.

Heralded by last year’s striking Imagine concept, the upcoming coupe-like crossover will clearly be a way for Kia designers to make a name for themselves — and, Kia hopes, a way for big-bucks buyers to get more for their money.

Spurred into EV action by various lawmakers and the emissions mandates they brought forth, Kia announced late last year that the Imagine, or whatever the brand decides to call it, is a go.

At the time, Kia Europe Chief Operating Officer Emilio Herrera was more concerned with the question of how the brand will make money off cheap, small EVs. Profitability likely won’t be as big a concern with the Imagine.

Speaking to Autocar, Kia marketing chief Carlos Lahoz called the model a halo. The Imagine, he said, is “as significant in showing our EV capability for the future as the Stinger was for showing how far Kia had progressed when it was launched.”

Expected to arrive in 2021, the rakish four-door is all about getting consumers to see Kia in a whole new light — while paying a suitable price that still undercuts European rivals. Herrera has talked up the possibility of getting electric supercar builder Rimac on board, thus ensuring an excess of performance.

“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,” Lahoz said.

“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.”

Despite automakers plunging into electrification like a burning man into a crystal-clear lake, much debate exists as to the level of market demand. The assumption in the industry is that there’s an EV for every consumer; when the right one comes along, they’ll pounce. Others feel that automakers are diving into a severely limited pool of buyers.

Design, along with content, range, and power, are the tools at a manufacturer’s disposal, and Kia hopes it has the right recipe. Halos are good, white elephants are not.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Feb 15, 2020

    The lift gate looks to be nicking the rear end from an Ioniq, the front end looks like RoboCop's helmet, while the laser background looks to be out of Tron. Call it the RoboTronIq. As for EV versus ICE, EVs fit most of my motoring needs since I only work 8 miles from home as the crow flys and a majority of my errands are done in Suburbia USA. However, I have a 200 mile round trip which I take monthly to visity brother and his family in Rural USA. I'd be nervous to risk it without at least a 250-300 range for a bit of a fudge YMMV factor. I'm pretty certain a hybrid is in my future - maybe even a plug-in Hybrid, but I'm not actively looking.

  • Probert Probert on Feb 15, 2020

    White elephants with halos are beautiful

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.