Bermaz's Kia revival has an EV and hybrid roadmap in place. It has only been a 3 months since the confirmation that Bermaz Auto (BAuto) had acquired the distributorship of Kia vehicles in Malaysia, but only now has their plans for the South Korean brand begun to take shape.
While most of the decisions are probably still being made behind the scenes, some details going into that blueprint have been outlined through an investor report by Maybank Investment Bank published last week.
To revitalise the Kia name in Malaysia, which they only acquired the rights to in April, BAuto is planning an aggressive push towards electrification in a seeming about-face to what the brand was known for under previous distributors, Naza.
In addition to focusing the continuation of mass-market vehicles through local assembly operations, the ‘new’ Kia will also leverage the automaker’s newest and most advanced global models such as the fully electric EV6 and the e-Niro, though that’s further into the future.
New models will also be brought in to fill out the Kia range such as much awaited 5th-generation Sportage, its smaller B-segment SUV sibling, the Seltos, which the Malaysian market has had an odd on-again, off-again relationship with.
While it isn’t clear if the Sportage will be cleared for CKD from the get-go, the Seltos and Carnival MPV will be among the first locally assembled Kias to emerge under Bermaz. When it does, however, expect to see the variant list include plug-in hybrids alongside the more predictable set of petrol powered powertrains.
This semi-electric Sportage, alongside another prominent hybrid from Peugeot and Mazda, will be the spearheads which Bermaz is banking on to reach a that critical balance of premium appeal and value-geared accessibility thanks to an EV policy that, unfortunately, has not fully formed.
If the regulating bodies managed to get their ducks in a row and proceed swiftly in the direction Bermaz is expecting, it could result in them planting a flag on some virgin territory in the Malaysian automotive landscape, leading to some very attractively priced hybrid and electric vehicles.
With the parallel and plug-in hybrid offerings secured and selling at a steady pace, Bermaz could then advance into their next planned stage to introduce fully electric models such as the aforementioned Kia EV6, which is poised be the automaker’s global zero emissions flagship with an advanced 800V architecture, fast-charging capabilities, high performance dual electric motors, and a quoted range beyond 500km per full charge.
There’s still much to sort out beyond the EV6’s launch, however, as the infrastructure and other electric vehicle sticking points still remain at the forefront of Malaysian buyers. To counter this, Bermaz might offer a subscription model to supplement traditional private ownership, while simultaneously fleshing out a robust parts and battery warranty and replacement programme.
Much of their plans still remain a matter of conjecture, but will also crucially depend on the successful first phase following the brand’s official relaunch, and the same applies to Peugeot. Unfortunately, we still have precious little about these specifics, and whether their 2021 plans are still salvageable.
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