Kia has unveiled its new plan to go carbon neutral by 2045, joining the admittedly small group of automakers that have already committed to such a thing. The first big step will be full electrification of its model range in Europe by 2035, followed by other “key global markets” in 2040. Kia currently makes a handful of hybrids and full-on battery-powered cars, like the EV6, though it’s going to take more than just building vehicles that don’t run on gas to be carbon neutral.
Because you can’t do anything without some sort of slogan exercise that makes reading the plans to save the planet sound like a corporate away day, Kia detailed that its own strategy to achieve carbon neutrality will have three pillars: “Sustainable Mobility,” “Sustainable Planet,” and “Sustainable Energy.” None of those entirely fill you in on how Kia is going to, by 2045, reach just three percent of its 2019 CO2 emissions.
Some of it will be, of course, a joint effort across the Hyundai Motor Group. Hyundai, Kia’s sister brand at the Hyundai Motor Group, announced back in September that it was going carbon neutral on the same timeline, with plans including a commitment to green hydrogen technologies, as well as battery electric vehicles and clean energy.
Now, Kia is aiming to get its international production sites moved to renewable energy sourcing by 2030, and by 2040 for its sites in Korea. It already has one production site overseas, in Slovakia, which has moved to clean energy and it plans to help its sites in Korea, China, and India transition to renewables through the adoption of solar power technologies.
There’s also a genuinely neat initiative that it’s putting into practice at home. Kia is gonna work with Korea’s coastal wetlands to promote the growth of seaweed and seagrasses. Anyone who’s watched an Attenborough documentary lately will know that seagrasses are one of the most amazing carbon sinks in the world and can absorb twice as much as forests on land so this is, legitimately, helpful in the fight to stop the planet burning. No matter if it offsets anything directly from Kia or not, this is the kind of stuff everyone should be doing.
For context, it’s worth noting that Kia’s switch to electrification isn’t happening all that soon compared to other automakers. Mercedes, for instance, is pledging to get rid of combustion models by 2030 and thinks that date could move forwards. What’s more, Audi will quit making gas and diesel cars in 2026. This is especially true when you consider Kia’s promise is just about electrification of its range, which includes hybrid cars that still burn fuels.
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