Kia Imagine concept heads to production, with stricter emissions rules in mind


It’s unclear if we’ll see the Kia Imagine in the US, but anything’s possible.


The world is cracking down on vehicle emissions, and even though that may not be true at a larger scale in the US, we’ll absolutely feel the effects. Don’t expect automakers to churn out cars for a single market these days in a global economy.

That brings us to Kia. The South Korean company’s chief operating officer in Europe gave a pretty blunt reading of what stricter emissions regulations will mean moving forward, and it includes a lot more electric cars with higher price tags. In an interview with Emilio Herrera published Friday, Automotive News Europe showed us what we’ll see from Kia in Europe in the years to come.

The big piece of news is that Herrera confirmed we’ll see a production version of the Imagine concept hit the road in 2021. When we got a glimpse back in March, it was a rather nice-looking thing with a redesigned Kia logo, sedanlike looks and a vaulted ride height. There were also 21 screens onboard the concept car in a dominolike configuraton. Don’t look for that to make it to production.

It’ll be some sort of electrified model, perhaps totally electric. Kia was quiet on specifications for the concept and only mentioned a battery and a compact powertrain. Herrera didn’t single it out as a totally electric car, either, and Kia Europe didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also coming in late 2021 will be a fuel cell vehicle, which the COO acknowledged Kia “won’t sell a lot of” but he did underscore that it’s still part of the company’s electrification program. Indeed, fuel cell vehicles offer a lot of promise, but lack a solid infrastructure. If you think charging an electric car is difficult, try finding a hydrogen fuel station outside of California.

It’s worth noting that we don’t know if the production Imagine will be offered in the US. However, as alluded to above, if the world goes all-in on zero-emission cars, don’t look for automakers to produce traditional vehicles for just a single market forever.

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