2017 Kia Stinger
2018 Kia Stinger design sketch Photo: Supplied

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Kez Casey | Jan, 18 2018 | 0 Comments

Kia’s design-led resurgence looks set to get another dramatic boost with the adoption of electric propulsion, with both design and engineering executives promising big things once the brand makes the switch.

Speaking at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, Kia’s European design director Gregory Guillaume was enthusiastic about the new possibilities available to the brand as it transitions to electric propulsion.

Expect to see the kind of dramatic low bonnet and cab-rearward stance that defines the Stinger used as the benchmark across the range, something the brand has already began to implement on the latest generation Forte (to be sold in Australia as the Cerato) unveiled in Detroit.

Freed from the packaging constraints of housing a traditional front engine, front wheel drive, internal combustion powertrain the South Korean brand looks set to adopt a more athletic styling direction across its passenger car lines.

“Proportions-wise between Stinger and Forte, Stinger has the wonderful advantage of using this technical layout with the front-mid engine and rear wheel drive that gives it this proportion, it’s magic when we have that, and we usually don’t have it on normal cars.” Guillaume said

“Think about it, if you get platforms that are built for electric only you’re free of that. For us as the designers we could, on a Forte, get proportions of a Stinger or whatever we want.”

Kia’s global head of design Peter Schreyer also weighed in suggesting that the less restrictive packaging needs of a future small car means Kia could make the switch to different drive layouts.

“It could be rear wheel drive or all wheel drive.” Schreyer suggested.

Even without a change to the current front wheel drive layout Guillaume was confident of creating a new proporsional theme for traditional commuter cars like the Cerato, to follow the styling set by the Stinger, with the 2017 Proceed Concept (below) pointing to the kind of long-bonnet look that's possible.

“If you don’t want rear wheel drive, if you say it’s safer or whatever to have [front wheel drive] we can still get the proportions, we don’t have the engine up there with the cooling and everything so it’s going to open new possibilities and it’s going to be an interesting era.”

The timing for when Kia will implement a mainstream electric range was less clear however, although engineering chief Albert Biermann confirmed that a preview of the brands electric future was schedule to appear as a concept, with a business case being prepared for an undisclosed new model.

“We are discussing and playing around with concept car already with more powerful electric motors and so on, so that’s already part of our business.” Biermann confirmed, with Kia having already shown electric concepts including the Ray, Naimo, and Pop previously.

“I cannot discuss anything, what’s going to happen when... but of course we are working on it already.”

Kia’s eventual electric roll-out looks set to be dictated by the company’s accounting team rather than the wishes of either design or engineering departments, with the technology limited not by its ability, but rather by its profit potential

“It’s all a matter of economics at the end,” Guillaume provided. “The moment you get the volumes high enough to justify doing platforms that are electric only, then yes it will go that way, and then it will go very fast, I’m sure.”

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