2024 Kia EV3 electric small SUV concept breaks cover

Kia has lifted the covers off a preview of its smallest dedicated electric car to date, the Concept EV3, a small SUV the same size as a Kia Seltos. It is due in overseas showrooms this time next year.

South Korean car maker Kia has unveiled a preview of its smallest dedicated electric vehicle to date, the 2024 Kia Concept EV3, designed to reduce the price of entry into the brand’s global electric-vehicle range.

Kia unveiled the EV3 concept at an 'EV Day' media event in South Korea, alongside the larger EV5 SUV in production form, and the Concept EV4 sedan.

The showroom version of the EV3 concept has already been spotted testing in Europe, and is due to be unveiled in late 2024. Australian arrival plans are yet to be confirmed.

All three models are underpinned by the same E-GMP electric-car platform as the Kia EV6 and EV9, however their electrical systems run at 400 volts – not 800 volts – to reduce cost.

The Kia EV3 retains the same vehicle-to-load and vehicle-to-grid features as its bigger sibling, allowing it to power external electrical devices, or send energy back to the grid.

The EV3 is expected to become the most affordable electric-vehicle option to date in Kia Australia showrooms, as a compact SUV similar in size to the Mazda CX-30, Kia Seltos and Toyota Corolla Cross.

Production of the EV3 is due to take place at a factory in Slovakia – which today builds the Cerato-sized Ceed hatchback for Europe, but is planned to be converted to build only electric vehicles from 2025 – as well as other factories overseas.

Its design mimics that of the EV9 flagship SUV, which is due on Australian roads later this month, by applying an electric-car-specific interpretation of the brand’s “Opposites United” styling language.

The Kia Concept EV3 is sized similarly to the Kia Soul hatch – no longer sold in Australia – and keeps the brand’s emerging boxy design themes first seen on the Kia EV9, and reissued on the mid-size EV5.

The front-end design is similar to the EV6, with a version of the “Tiger Nose” front grille signature synonymous with Kia cars, and a new vertical “Star Map” lighting signature for the head and tail-lights.

At the rear end the design is characterised by prominent haunches with squared-off wheel arches, and a floating rear window pillar which leads the eye down to stylised tail-lights.

Kia says it has introduced new eco-friendly materials inside the EV3 Concept’s cabin as it moves away from leather and animal-based products.

The South Korean manufacturer says it used new materials and processes such as growing mushroom-root fibres to fabricate interior components and surfaces.

“Mycelium, which comes from mushroom roots, combines excellent strength with an extremely soft surface. Developing grown materials, a process referred to as bio fabrication, is a major goal for Kia,” Marília Biill, lead materials designer at Kia, said in a media statement.

In particular, Kia has drawn attention to the EV3 Concept’s console table which sits between the two front seats and can adapt and move to afford more bench – or storage – space.

It has also used natural – as opposed to carbon-derived – fibre structures to create a set of new lightweight, slimmer seat designs.

A sustainable fibre weave is claimed to enable more elegant interior styling, according to Kia, while a selection of natural Air-inspired colour tones forms the basis of the interior presentation.

The seat upholstery is said to use 3D-knit technology, which is claimed to provide a unique look, and reduce the amount of stitching required.

Kia has indicated a production version of the EV3 small SUV is planned to be revealed in 2024, and will be followed by a GT performance version.

Kia has set a target of selling one million electric vehicles globally – 25 per cent of its annual sales – by 2026, and up to 37 per cent of its global sales is planned to be made up by electric cars from 2030.

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Tom Fraser

Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.

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