Car firm Kia has today launched an antidote for drivers of electric cars who suffer range-anxiety worries about where they can next charge their car.
It’s new KiaCharge s ‘one-stop shop’ system gives drivers of its cars access to 13,900 UK charging points at which to recharge their pure electric or plug-in petrol-electric hybrid vehicles.
It means owners of cars like its electric e-Niro and Soul EV – and drivers of plug-in hybrids such as the Sorento PHEV – will have access to around 68 per cent of the public charging network – from a single account.
The new KiaCharge service also gives drivers access to more than 1,300 ‘rapid’ connections, usually found in urban hubs and major travel arteries, which provide charging speeds above 50kW.
And when foreign travel eventually becomes feasible again after the Covid-lockdowns, they will also have access to 178,000 charging points via ‘e-Roaming’ across 28 other European countries enabling zero-emission continental travel without the need for additional contracts.
The system, created by Kia in partnership with Digital Charging Solutions (DCS), works via a smartphone app or radio-frequency identification (RFID) card.
Motorists can choose from two flexible tariffs – ‘Easy’ and ‘Plus’ – and receive a single itemised monthly invoice, just like with a smartphone.
The ‘Easy’ tariff is aimed at light users, with a one-off £1.99 charge to access the service and obtain their KiaCharge RFID card. There is no monthly subscription fee.
Instead, when users plug-in, most charging stations (except those on the BP Pulse and Pod Point networks), will require a £0.49 ‘session fee’ after which users pay per kWh of electricity at each network’s ‘instant’ rate.
The ‘Plus’ tariff is aimed at more frequent ‘power-users’, who rely more heavily on public charging. They will pay a £2.99 monthly tariff, with no up-front charge or session fees. Users will also pay per kWh, but earn an additional 15 per cent discount per kWh from most networks (except BP Pulse, Pod Point and Ionity).
Users can also add a new or existing BP Pulse bolt-on subscription to their KiaCharge account, costing £7.85 per month. This subscription provides a discount of up to 40 per cent when charging within the BP Pulse network of nearly 7,000 chargers, compared to the ‘instant’ charging rate.
An Ionity bolt-on tariff is also to be launched later in 2021 to coincide with the launch of Kia’s next-generation battery electric vehicle which will be able to accommodate the high-speed charging capabilities of the Ionity network thanks to its 800V maximum charging capacity.
Kia UK said: ‘From launch, KiaCharge provides access to several major charging networks, including BP Pulse, Pod Point, Ionity, Source London, Chargepoint, NewMotion, Char-gy, and ESB.
‘Several other networks, including certain regional services, are also available’.
Kia said: ‘There are plans to further expand KiaCharge coverage throughout 2021. Being able to access these networks via a single platform negates the need for drivers to sign up to separate accounts with multiple charging point operators.’
Kia said: ‘ Located in urban hubs and along major travel arteries, such chargers let Kia e-Niro and Soul EV drivers make the most of each vehicle’s rapid-charging capabilities.
Paul Philpott, president and chief executive of Kia Motors UK added: ‘The availability and suitability of public charge points remains a perceived hurdle for many would-be electric car buyers.
‘KiaCharge seeks to remedy this by providing a comprehensive, easy-to-use public charging service for our customers, accessible from a single account.’
He added: ‘This is a major step for Kia as we look for new ways to make EV ownership a more viable and stress-free option for many more drivers.’
The UK arm of the Korean car firm said: ‘KiaCharge tariffs are fully flexible and users can switch between them with only one month’s notice. They receive a single monthly invoice for using the service, rather than individual bills for each charge, giving them full oversight of their charging activity in one place.’
The KiaCharge app also enables route planning to help users find their way to charging stations either at their final destination or along a route.
KiaCharge is available to all owners of existing and future Kia pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) including the 64kWh Kia e-Niro which can drive up to 282 miles on a single charge, and the new Kia Sorento PHEV.
Motorists can sign-up to KiaCharge and manage their account via the app or online at www.kiacharge.com.