Kia will beat Rivian and Tesla into affordable mass-market EVs


Kia will beat Rivian and Tesla into affordable mass-market EVs

Although Rivian and Tesla are making headlines with planned expansions into mass-market electric vehicles, Kia is set to launch two affordable EVs of its own. One of them, the Kia EV3, is expected to launch by the end of the year.

More affordable EVs are coming

Rivian unveiled its highly anticipated R2 electric SUV Thursday. The electric SUV will start at $45,000, with all trims boasting over 300 miles range.

At 4,715 mm long, 1,700 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,935, the R2 is smaller than Rivians current R1S electric SUV ( 5,100 mm x L, 1,873 mm x H, 3,075 x wheelbase). You can think of it more as the size of a Tesla Model Y.

Rivian’s CEO, RJ Scaringe, had a Steve Jobs moment, revealing “one last thing,” an even more affordable and compact R3. It will include a tri-motor R3X, Rivian’s first high-performance compact EV.

Scaringe announced the R2 was already generating strong interest, with over 68,000 reservations in under 24 hours.

To accelerate the launch, Rivian will build the R2 at its Normal, Illinois facility rather than its new plant in Georgia. The more affordable Rivian R2 is set to begin production in the first half of 2026, and Rivian’s R3 will follow.

Rivian R2 (Source: Rivian)

Rivian isn’t the only EV maker making a push into cheaper, mass-market electric cars. Tesla is also planning to launch next-gen EVs. Although Tesla initially planned to build them at its new Gigafactory in Mexico, an excerpt from CEO Elon Musk’s biography said the next-gen EVs will be made in Texas.

Rivian R3X (Source: Rivian)

Kia is launching cheaper mass-market EV

Although Rivian and Tesla are getting all the attention, Kia has big plans to enter the mass market with more affordable EVs.

Kia has found recent success with its first three-row EV9 electric SUV. In the first two months of 2024, Kia sold 2,726 EV9 models in the US, outpacing the EV6 crossover.

Kia EV9 Trim

(including $1,495
destination fee)
EPA Est. Range
Light RWD $56,395 230
Light Long
Range RWD
$60,695 304
Wind e-AWD $65,395 280
Land e-AWD $71,395 280
GT-Line e-AWD $73,900 270
2024 Kia EV9 trim prices and range

The EV9 starts at $54,900, but the sporty GT-Line will run you nearly $74,000. Meanwhile, Kia looks to get back to its roots with more affordable EVs, including the EV3 and EV4.

Kia revealed the EV3 and EV4 concepts during its first annual EV Day in October. The new EVs are part of Kia’s wide-ranging electric car lineup, priced between $30,000 and $80,000.

Kia EV lineup from left to right: EV6, EV4, EV5, EV3, EV9 (Source: Kia)

The EV3 is expected to be the lowest-priced model, with starting prices around $30,000. Kia’s entry-level EV3 represents the brand’s vision of an all-electric compact crossover. It takes design, tech, and other features from the EV9 and puts it into a smaller, more affordable package.

Kia is expected to launch the EV3 later this year, if not by the end of 2024 or early 2025. If true, that will beat Rivian’s R2 (2026) and Tesla’s next-gen EVs, which are expected in late 2025.

The EV4, Kia’s entry-level electric sedan, is expected to start at around $35,000. Kia describes the EV4 as an “entirely new type of sedan that stands as a symbol of innovation.”

Although the EV4 was also expected to launch by the end of 2024, local media reports claimed Kia VP Woo-Jeong Joo said it would be pushed back to early 2025. Kia’s leader said the move was to launch the models sequentially for maximum success.

Kia EV4 concept (Source: Kia)

Kia has already launched its compact EV5 electric SUV in China with starting prices around $20,000 (149,800 yuan).

Electrek’s Take

Kia has a real opportunity to redefine the brand with the more affordable mass-market EVs like the EV3 and EV4.

Although several cheaper electric cars are on the US market, like the Chevy Bolt EV and Nissan LEAF, both are being phased out in favor of upgraded versions. By launching at least one entry-level model by the end of the year, Kia can capture an early lead in the affordable EV market.

The second entry-level (EV4) electric car, due out early next year, can play a key role in Kia’s transition to EVs with few competitors outside the Tesla Model 3 and Hyundai IONIQ 6.

It’s not quite fair to compare Kia to Rivian and Tesla, as both EV makers are viewed as more “premium” brands. However, with affordable models, Kia can carve its spot in the EV market, a segment it’s known for.

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