Kia will beat Rivian and Tesla in affordable EVs

While Rivian and Tesla are making headlines with planned expansions into mass-market electric vehicles, Kia is poised to launch two affordable electric vehicles of its own. One of these, the Kia EV3, is expected to be launched at the end of this year.

More and more affordable EVs are becoming available

Rivian unveiled its long-awaited R2 electric SUV on Thursday. The electric SUV will start at $45,000, and all trims will have a range of more than 300 miles.

With a length of 4,715 mm, a height of 1,700 mm and a wheelbase of 2,935, the R2 is smaller than Rivian’s current electric SUV R1S (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 CEO RJ Scaringe had a Steve Jobs moment and unveiled “one last thing,” an even more affordable and compact R3. It will feature a triple-motor R3X, Rivian’s first high-performance compact EV.

Scaringe announced that the R2 was already generating strong interest, with more than 68,000 reservations in less than 24 hours.

To speed up the launch, Rivian will build the R2 at its factory in Normal, Illinois, instead of its new factory in Georgia. The more affordable Rivian R2 is expected to begin production in the first half of 2026, with Rivian’s R3 to follow.

Rivian-R2 Reservations
Rivian R2 (Source: Rivian)

Rivian isn’t the only EV manufacturer dabbling in cheaper electric cars for the mass market. Tesla also plans to launch the next generation of 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 generation of EVs will be made in Texas.

Rivian R3X
Rivian R3X (Source: Rivian)

Kia launches cheaper EVs for the mass market

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

Kia recently achieved success with its first EV9 three-row electric SUV. In the first two months of 2024, Kia sold 2,726 EV9 models in the US, surpassing the EV6 crossover.

Kia EV9 version

Recommended retail price
(includes $1,495
destination fee)
EPA estimate. Range
(miles)
Light RWD $56,395 230
Slightly long
Range RWD
$60,695 304
Wind e-AWD $65,395 280
Country 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 cost you almost $74,000. Meanwhile, Kia is trying to return to its roots with more affordable EVs, including the EV3 and EV4.

Kia unveiled the EV3 and EV4 concepts at the first annual EV Day in October. The new electric cars are part of Kia’s extensive range of electric cars, priced between $30,000 and $80,000.

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

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

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

The EV4, Kia’s entry-level electric sedan, is expected to cost around $35,000. Kia describes the EV4 as a “completely new type of sedan that symbolizes innovation.”

Although the EV4 was also expected to hit the market in late 2024, local media claimed that Kia vice president Woo-Jeong Joo would delay it until early 2025. Kia’s leader said the intention was to launch the models consecutively for maximum success.

Kia EV4
Kia EV4 concept (Source: Kia)

Kia has already launched its EV5 compact 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 its more affordable mass-market EVs like the EV3 and EV4.

While there are several cheaper electric cars on the US market, such as the Chevy Bolt EV and the 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 gain an early lead in the affordable EV market.

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

It’s not entirely fair to compare Kia to Rivian and Tesla, as both EV makers are seen as more “premium” brands. However, with affordable models, Kia can conquer its place in the EV market, a segment for which it is known.

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