Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are planning to expand their overseas production bases for eco-friendly vehicles. Currently, the strongest candidates are those in Europe, in particular, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The two Korean automakers appear to be taking measures to respond to strong CO2 emission regulations enforced by the European Union (EU).
Global automakers had continued to reduce their CO2 emissions, but the average CO2 emissions of new cars sold in Europe in 2017 amounted to 118.5 grams per kilometer, still falling short of the EU’s 2021 target of 95 g/km.
If automakers fail to meet the target in the future, they will have to pay a fine of 95 euros for every 1 gram of CO2 emissions from 2021 on.
Hyundai and Kia have no choice but to produce eco-friendly cars in Europe in order to meet European CO2 regulations. Pure electric cars are attractive since they emit no CO2, but considering battery supply issues, the two Korean automakers are expected to produce hybrid cars first and expand their product range to electric vehicles including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
In fact, Kia Motors is considering producing a PHEV version of the Ceed at the Slovakia plant in the second half of this year. Then it is expected to respond to regulations by introducing an eco-friendly product line of the Sportage's completely modified model in 2021 when CO2 regulations will be tightened in Europe.
Hyundai Motor is also working internally to cope with CO2 regulations. It is also considering producing a hybrid version of the 4th-generation Tucson (project name NX) at the Czech plant in the second half of next year. Considering that Tucson is a “brother car” that shares the platform with the Kia Sportage, the eco-friendly car’s power train will have the same structure as the Kia Sportage. In addition, Hyundai Motor is reportedly making preparations to produce the Kona Electric at its Czech plant, making it the first electric car to be produced at the plant.
Meanwhile, Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, said in a speech early this year that the group will increase the number of green car models to 44 by 2025, with electric vehicles accounting for 23.