Kia Warns Against Demonizing Hybrid Powertrains

UK government plans to bring forward a total ban on new cars with ICE powertrains risks derailing automakers’ electrification strategies.

That’s the opinion of Paul Philpott, president and CEO of Kia Motors UK who says hybrid (HEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains are a key factor in educating consumers out of old high emission vehicles in to electrified cars. Speaking by conference call to TU-Automotive following the virus cancelled 2020 Geneva Motor Show, Philpott said the bringing forward of the government’s ban on all ICE technology from 2040 to 2035 came as a shock to automakers.

He said that while Kia supports the ongoing moves by regulators to reduce climate warming CO2 emissions, the way measures are implemented can undermine automakers’ marketing strategies. He told us: “I’m more concerned that the government messaging about hybrid and plug-in hybrid now puts them as part of the problem rather than being part of the solution.

“Because, on this flight path from where we were last year to where we need to be in 2035 and where we need to be next year in terms of 95g/100km and 75g/100km the following year, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles play a key part in the progressive reduction in average CO2.

“This has to be progressive so that in 15 years hence, yes we can see the road map, but hybrid and plug-in hybrid have to be part of the positive progression towards CO2 and not seen as part of the problem that will be outlawed from 2035. That came as a shock to the industry.”

Electrified powertrains gain ground

Philpott admitted that while take-up of BEV products both in the UK and in the Eurozone are currently low, consumers are becoming increasingly interested in making the switch to electrified powertrains. He said: “Demand for every electrified products is significant. All the research we have done with EV charging is that 90% of it is done at home or at work. So, if you have a motorway charging solution to back up the home and office solutions then that should meet the needs of many EV owners. However, when it becomes all new cars must be sold to EV owners there are different and new solutions that will be required for charging particularly in major conurbations where off-street parking is less common.”

There is a danger that urban consumers could end up being barred from being able to own new vehicles threatening the moves towards clean-air policies in congested cities if  adequate on-street charging facilities are not widespread by the time of the government’s deadline. Philpott said: “This could be a real problem, unless there are innovative ways found to meet the challenge. These are some of the actions we are hoping the government will come up with if they want to see all internal combustion engines out of new vehicles by 2035.”

However, he said with enough government help, things can move very rapidly. Philpott added: “I would say that 15 years ago we would not have anticipated the sort of infrastructure we are considering today. The rate of progress on electrification is significant and I think, therefore, we will see more innovation in terms of charging and also in terms of longer ranges.”

He said this is the time for regulators to address the challenges facing the automotive industry to allow them to meet the targets matched to consumer demand. Philpott concluded: “Of course, the move forward to 2035 was not expected but the deadline of being fully electric, selling no new internal combustion engine or HEV or PHEV by then, doesn’t scare me providing the infrastructure is in place. This includes the provision of enough electricity supply.

“We need innovation and we need that road map from now until 2035 that handles:

  1. A) How do we make sure there’s enough renewable electricity available for electric cars; and
  2. B) Where is the infrastructure plan for charging these cars?

“Because we will produce them and we will create demand for them providing these two things are in place.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

One comment

  1. Avatar Paul Woodward 9th July 2020 @ 3:44 pm

    Yes, there is a case that, would infrastructure be in place before the 2035 ban because this would take a lot of planning and control from both UK and regional government bodies? However, with respect to the danger that urban consumers could end up being barred from being able to own new vehicles. Is this a bad thing? Is there not a shift in the consumer to see a vehicle as an unnecessary commodity rather than a wanted purchase, as the world move towards a “Transport/Mobility as a service” model, which is much more than the mere rental market at present, with the likes of ride-hailing, ride-sharing and e-scooter apps and services (Uber/Lyft et al)?

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