The Korean manufacturer will begin production of a next generation Picanto next year and electric versions are expected to follow in 2012.
It also announced plans to introduce a 1.0-litre turbocharged ‘hot’ version of the city car that will be capable of delivering 110bhp.
The Kia Picanto is currently available with 1.0 and 1.1-litre engines capable of up to 85mph. Prices for the low-cost Picanto start at just £6,000.
Due to the low price and lightweight parts, the Picanto is seen by Kia as an ideal model to demonstrate its EV technology.
An electric version would be powered by a 50kw lithium polymer battery – a lightweight alternative to the lithium-ion used in larger electric vehicles such as the Renault Fluence ZE.
However, Kia will not be working on just the one eco-friendly technology. Due to uncertainty about what will emerge as the industry standard, low CO2 propulsion technology, Kia will also continue to pursue hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Models are currently being tested in both South Korea and the United States as the manufacturer waits to see how much infrastructure such as charging points there will be for each type of low-CO2 propulsion.
In particular, the manufacturer will continue to develop the LPG hybrid version of the Forte C-segment model originally launched last year and hopes to introduce a range of fuel cell vehicles by 2020.