Everything we know about the Kia EV9 as of May 2022 [Update]

Update: ‘U.S. Production’ sub-section of the ‘Production’ section updated again.

Kia began the second phase of its electrification strategy by introducing the Kia EV6, its first ‘born EV’ in 2021. Many more dedicated Kia electric car models are coming by 2027, including a flagship SUV called the Kia EV9. An exclusive report from ETNews suggests that internally, the second bespoke Kia EV goes by the codename ‘Kia MV.’

Let’s look at the expected design, interior, and specifications of the Kia EV9.

Positioning

To be positioned as the flagship, the Kia EV9 will be a large SUV similar to the Telluride: big, boxy, and bold. However, the future is not exactly like the past! While it may offer comparable interior space, the EV9 will not be as big. Kia will build the EV9 on a bespoke EV platform (E-GMP), which allows it to offer a spacious interior in smaller exterior dimensions by stretching the wheelbase while keeping the overhangs shorter than a comparable gasoline-powered car. Particularly, the front overhang and bonnet will be shorter, and passengers will experience the benefits of a flat floor.

Design

In an era of low-riding, sleek electric SUVs that sacrifice core SUV traits in the name of efficiency, the Kia EV9 would be among the few that offer the same dominating presence as any large SUV. It features a partly flat, high-set hood, straight-ish beltline, roofline, and slightly hunched rear section.

The Kia Concept EV9 features a traditional SUV shape, but its design is a work of modern art and sets a contrasting tone. The EV9 balances its classic silhouette with a contemporary styling achieved with technical-looking headlamps and tail lamps, geometric shapes on the body panels, and three-spoke wheels. A large, oval-shaped, seamless glass integrated into the roof lets plenty of light inside the cabin and provides unobstructed views of the sky.

Reinterpreted Tiger Face

One of the Concept EV9’s design highlights is the digital Tiger Face, which Kia has approved for the production EV9. The company says it has reinterpreted its iconic design cue for the EV era. A new type of grille houses an intricate star pattern display, which hides behind the body panel of the SUV when not in use. It’s a light show highlighting the futuristic nature of the concept. The driver gets a greeting with sequential patterns that generate a welcome light and double as position lights during driving.

An exterior design element worth noting is the hood vent duct area, which Kia has utilized as a solar panel. This helps recuperate some electric energy when the vehicle is in open-space parking or on the move in the daylight. Retractable roof rails also have our attention, raisable when needed with just a touch of a button and resting at all other times, allowing a smooth airflow over the SUV.

80-90 percent of the concept’s design preserved in the production car

Kia America Chief Designer Tom Kearns told Motor Authority that about 80-90% of the concept’s exterior design will make it to production, reported the publication on April 20, 2022. If that’s the case, the EV9 would appear nearly as striking and futuristic as the concept. Expect the production version to shed the full wheel covers and the accentuated elements on the rear bumper. It may also come with thicker A, B and C pillar to meet safety regulations, and will not carry forward the pillarless interior.

Kia EV9 design render

Kia EV9 design render
The design render of the production Kia electric SUV by the Korean YouTube channel looks realistic, transitioning about 90 percent of the concept. Image: KooKiSung studio

Korean YouTube channel KooKiSung studio released a design render of the production Kia EV9 on February 25, based on the concept unveiled at the LA Auto Show. It appears large and muscular like its upcoming cousin, the Hyundai Ioniq 7, sporting an unmissable road presence. There’s the signature tiger face on the render, while the star cloud pattern lamp seen on the concept has rightfully been omitted. The side profile has angled fenders instead of character lines, flush door handles, cameras instead of door mirrors, roof rails, gloss black fenders, and a large glass area with slim pillars.

Interior

The EV9 will likely provide comfortable seating for up to seven passengers. It would be a proper three-row electric SUV, offering a zero-emission alternative to typical gas-powered American mid-size models. The interior could carry a minimalist theme that helps it look futuristic and improves the space level and eco-friendliness. Kia could employ recycled plastics and wool, plant-based (bio PET) yarns and natural wool yarns, plant-based extracts, and other new types of eco-friendly, sustainably sourced materials for many of the interior touchpoints.

The interior of the Kia Concept EV9 is highly conceptual, although its core design and layout should make it to the production-oriented Kia EV9. From the oblong steering wheel to the low-profile horizontal dashboard, the (27-inch) ultra-wide display combining functions of a traditional instrument panel and an infotainment system, the omission of analog controls, and the touch-operated digital controls integrated into the dashboard, everything here is futuristic.

27-inch display

The production EV9 will also feature a 27-inch ultra-wide display, Kia has confirmed. Back to the concept version, except for the highly practical large floor console that likely houses plenty of cubby storage spaces, the interior is purposefully compact.

The Concept EV9 offers three rows of seats in alterable layouts. It provides an optimal driving experience in an Active mode. Then there’s a Pause Mode, transforming the cabin into a first-class lounge. The front seats swivel so that the driver and front passenger can face the rear passengers, and the second-row seats fold down and become a table. There’s one more stationary mode, called Enjoy. In this mode, the tailgate opens, and the occupants can relax by enjoying the outside environment. Kia has confirmed that the production EV9 will feature swivel seats that can rotate 90 degrees.

Sustainable materials

Kia has used recycled and sustainable materials in the interior of the Concept EV9. It has made the seats and fabric out of recycled plastic bottles and wool fiber and the flooring from fishing nets. The company chose vegan leather for the interior to reduce animal skin processing and create a smaller carbon footprint. Like Volvo Cars, Kia intends to phase out leathers in all vehicles. It has said that it will use fishnet debris, recycled plastic, and other eco-friendly materials in the production EV9.

Space

On March 21, 2022, KCB reported that the interior space on the Kia EV9 would be generous. Cabin space is another area where bespoke electric platforms shine. The E-GMP is known to open up acres of room for rear seat passengers and luggage; the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a fine example when you compare to an equivalent gas-powered crossover. KCB states that the second and third row of seats will offer the same space as the Kia Carnival. The report adds that the third row will be more spacious than regular ICE-powered 7-seaters. However, the initial test mules (yet to be photographed) will have captain seats in the second row—they will be 6-seaters.

Specifications

The Kia EV9’s exterior dimensions should be similar to those of the Kia Concept EV9. For reference, the concept measures 194 inches in length, 81 inches in width, and 70 inches in height. It has a wheelbase of 122 inches.

E-GMP

The EV9 will sit on Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP platform. The version used in the EV9, shared with the Hyundai Ioniq 7, should be the largest version of the dedicated EV platform. The flagship model should reap almost all advantages of the E-GMP platform, including high-voltage batteries, multi (400V and 800V) and bi-directional charging system, long wheelbase, short front, and rear overhangs, and a low center of gravity.

Kia E-GMP platform
The Kia EV9 will share the E-GMP platform with the Hyundai Ioniq 7. Image Source: Hyundai Motor Group

E-GMP relies on the rear wheel for propulsion, so motive power goes to the rear wheels. Customers can opt for a second electric motor that powers the front wheels, creating an all-wheel drive drivetrain layout for more grip. E-GMP platform models use a standardized battery module that consists of pouch-type standard cells. It is possible to pack the battery module in different quantities as per the required range, though.

Range & charging

Kia has said that the range of the Concept EV9 is 300 miles. Kia America’s Chief Operating Officer Steven Center told Motor Authority on the sidelines of the 2022 New York International Auto Show that the production EV9 will need about 300 miles of range as that’s the “sweet spot or minimum entry for a larger vehicle.” 350 kW is the maximum supported DC charging power, and charging from 10 to 80% takes 20-30 minutes in the concept. These charging figures should be the approximate targets for the production EV9. Moreover, the EV9 will support an 800-volt system that would enable faster charging speeds.

Additionally, the EV9 would also support bidirectional charging, which is called V2L (Vehicle-to-Load) in HMG speak. Customers will be able to plug external appliances to EV9’s charging port and power devices using the EV’s battery. We have already seen E-GMP-based cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 support this feature.

Battery & Motor configuration

Hyundai reportedly plans to offer the Ioniq 7 in single-motor RWD and dual-motor AWD configurations, with the latter packing 308 horsepower. Kia may use the same motors with similar tuning in the EV9. Another common core component between the two large SUVs could be a 100 kWh battery pack which could be more compact and lighter than current units, using new lithium-ion cells with a higher energy density of around 700 Wh/l compared to the present lithium-ion cells with 600 Wh/l energy density.

Talking about the EV9 at the 2022 Kia CEO Investor Day, Kia President & CEO Ho Sung Song said that the production EV9 will offer a range of 540 km (336 miles) presumably as per the South Korean test cycle) and be able to travel 100 km (62 miles) with just 6 minutes of charging. A 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint will take just 5 seconds.

Kia EV9 GT

You don’t often hear ‘GT’ when reading about a large boxy SUV like the EV9, but every Kia EV series model will have a GT variant, the brand has confirmed. Kia suggests that while GT means “overwhelming acceleration” and “high performance” for a sedan or a CUV (like the EV6), for an SUV (like the EV9), it could translate to “rich performance.” The EV9 GT may come exclusively in a twin-motor e-AWD variant with the largest battery pack Kia can offer.

Features

Kia EV9 concept seats interior
The Kia Concept EV9 is quite futuristic, but the production version could be an evolution of the Kia EV6’s cabin. Image Source: Hyundai Motor Group

Wireless charging

One of the Kia EV9’s attractive features could be wireless vehicle charging. Hyundai Motor Group is developing this technology and plans to test it in the Genesis GV60. By the time the Kia EV9 arrives in the market, the first commercially deployable version of the new-age EV charging technology could be ready. In addition to a wall-box charger, EV9 customers might be able to install a wireless vehicle charger at home.

V2L

V2L, thanks to the E-GMP platform’s bi-directional charging support, would be possible in the Kia EV9. It should be possible to supply at least 3.6 kW of electricity and power camping equipment, a home appliance, a movie projector, a laptop, or another electric vehicle.

Smart Glass

The production EV9 will be available with Smart Glass, which allows adjusting the level of roof transparency. With this technology, each occupant of a vehicle can keep an individual setting for the amount of natural light that gets into the cabin through the sunroof.

Connectivity

Kia is working on a connectivity solution called Car Cloud. The company says that with centralized, integrated, and high-performance controller design, Car Cloud will help it achieve flexibility in connected car development. It may use Car Cloud for the connectivity solutions of the EV9.

With fewer hardware components and increased software control over the functioning of hardware in electric vehicles compared to ICE vehicles, Kia wants to reduce its recall and campaign costs. The company wants to leverage OTA technology. For EV9 customers, this could mean fewer visits to the service center and no more of the long service periods, as say, Telluride customers. It will likely be possible to update the EV’s Vehicle Control Unit, Airbag Control Unit, Motor Driven Power Steering, and other controllers over the air.

In addition to OTA updates, the production EV9 will include FoD (Feature on Demand) services. Customers will be able to purchase separate individual software functions and activate them. Software, content, and services have the potential to become a major revenue stream for automakers in the era of highly software-controlled pure electric vehicles. Kia says that it is working on commercializing new technologies like autonomous driving and OTA that have a chance of becoming a vital contributor to income growth in the mid/long term.

Level 3 autonomous driving

The Kia EV9 will feature AutoMode, the company’s upcoming autonomous driving system. This will mark the start of the second phase in Kia’s autonomous technology roadmap. OTA update, NSCC (Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control) with HD maps, Highway Driving Pilot (HDP), and Auto Lane Change will be the highlights of AutoMode in the Kia EV9. In 2025 or later, AutoMode will offer full autonomous driving.

HDP is a major autonomous driving Level 3 development that would provide hands-free driving without requiring driver intervention on highways. We will get to see HDP in action later this year in the Genesis G90. HDP will use a LiDAR in addition to the conventional camera and radar equipment. The autonomous driving system would be able to detect objects 400 meters (1,300 feet) away.

Another tech highlight of the Kia EV9 would be an NVIDIA DRIVE infotainment system. Hyundai Motor Group and NVIDIA have collaborated to develop NVIDIA DRIVE infotainment systems for models from all three HMG brands – Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis. The partnership will allow the South Korean auto giant to deploy its upcoming ‘connected car Operating System’ (ccOS), which it has developed in-house.

Other available features in the Kia EV9 could be a solar panel roof, virtual mirrors (digital mirrors), face recognition, fingerprint reader, and Digital Key 3.0 with Ultra-Wideband technology.

Production

The ETNews report mentioned at the beginning of the story said that the production of the Kia MV will take place at the AutoLand Gwangmyeong plant in South Korea. Formerly called the Kia Sohari plant, this production facility will start making the Kia EV9 in April 2023. “The new electric vehicle to be produced in Gwangmyeong is a mid-size SUV that utilizes the dedicated electric vehicle platform E-GMP and is a model that will lead the brand,” Kia said (translated) in a briefing session for the plant’s labor union, as per the report.

Video Source: YouTube/Kia America

Kia’s AutoLand Gwangmyeong plant has an annual production capacity of 320,000 units. This factory is currently responsible for the Carnival, K9, Stinger, and the Stonic.

U.S. Production

On May 20, 2022, Hyundai Motor Group announced it will open a dedicated EV and battery manufacturing facility in Bryan County Megasite, (Georgia), USA. The company will invest USD 5.54 billion in this plant, and its suppliers will invest an additional USD 1 billion in the project. It will be a 2,923-acre site, and its construction would begin in January 2023. HMG expects full production to begin in H1 2025, with an annual capacity of 300,000 units. The company will establish the battery manufacturing facility with a strategic partnership, which could be with SK On.

Hyundai could manufacture the U.S.-spec Kia EV9 at the new electric vehicle plant built in Georgia, said a report from Reuters on May 9, 2022. The U.S.-spec Hyundai Ioniq 7 and EV9 will roll out of the new factory, three sources told Reuters.

EV9 to employ locally manufactured batteries

To ensure low cost and supply stability, Kia will use locally made batteries in the U.S.-built EV9. A report BusinessKorea published on May 13, 2022, said that SK On will establish a new battery plant with an annual production capacity of 40 GWh in Georgia, enough to power 500,000 electric vehicles that provide a range of 500 km or 311 miles. The battery factory could cost approximately KRW 3 trillion (USD 2.4 billion), but SK On wants to build it as a joint venture with Hyundai Motor Company. HMC intends to keep its stake as low as possible, though. Production will commence in 2025, and even HMC’s Ioniq 7 will source batteries from this factory, the report claimed.

Release Date

According to a report from thekoreancarblog.com, the EV9 will debut in September 2023. While Kia has confirmed that it will launch the EV9 in 2023, South Korea could be the flagship EV’s first market, followed by Europe, where its launch is also locked in for 2023.

During its New York International Auto Show 2022 conference on April 13, 2022, Kia slipped in the EV9 U.S. release date. Russell Wager, Vice President – Marketing, Kia America, revealed that sales of the EV9 in the U.S. will start in the second half of 2023.

I’m excited to confirm that the production version of the concept EV9 will go on sale in the U.S. in the second half of 2023.

Russell Wager, Vice President – Marketing, Kia America (New York International Auto Show 2022 on April 13, 2022)

It is a good possibility that North America would get a locally manufactured Kia EV9. Kia has mentioned that it plans to build EVs in the United States, and an announcement in this regard should arrive this year. Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung told reporters (via PulseNews.co.kr) during his 2022 New York Auto Show visit that the company was making an action plan, and will finalize the investment within the year.

Kia EV9 Concept showcased at Chicago and New York auto shows

Courtesy: Antbony Martorina

Kia flexed its muscles at the Chicago Auto Show 2022 by flaunting the EV9 concept. Kia went overboard with the presentation by placing a massive projector screen behind the display car. The screen ran an animation, making it look like the Concept EV9 swims underwater. However, don’t be fooled by the aqua theme; the EV9 will not be amphibious! Kia also displayed the EV9 concept at the New York International Auto Show 2022.

Kia EV strategy

Kia plans to launch no at least two EVs every year and expand its EV line-up to 14 models by 2027. The new EV launches will include two electric truck models, one of which will be a dedicated model and the other a strategic model (presumably converted from an ICE pickup truck).

By 2026, Kia plans to sell 807,000 EVs and increase the share of EVs in its annual sales to 21%. By 2030, these figures would change to 1.2 million EVs and 30%, respectively, if everything goes as planned. The company will make electric versions of mid-size SUV and electric pickup models in the U.S. from 2024.

Dedicated Kia electric cars E-GMP new
Kia’s EV range will include seven models developed with an electric powertrain from the outset. Image Source: Kia (Brightened).

In the U.S.

Demand for Kia’s electrified vehicles is growing significantly in the U.S. market. In 2021, sales of hybrid and pure electric Kia models in the country grew 97% year-over-year. Including both non-electrified and electrified models, Kia’s U.S. sales in 2021 totaled 701,416 units. This was the first time it sold more than 700,000 vehicles in the country, plus a solid 20% increase in annual sales from 2020. With the Kia Sportage Hybrid and EV6 going on sale this year, the demand for electrified Kias in America will continue rising.

Kia expects sales of its EVs in North America to grow significantly later this decade. By 2030, it aims to convert 36% of its combined U.S. and Canada sales to pure EVs. That’s nine times the target it has set for 2022 (4%), and such a high rate of conversion will demand a rethink of its sales and marketing plan. For a start, the company is developing a network of showrooms and service centers in the U.S. that deals exclusively in EVs.

Net carbon neutrality

At the brand’s ‘Kia Sustainability Movement’ presentation in November 2021, an extensive roadmap toward net carbon neutrality was laid out. The carmaker plans to reduce 97% of its 2019 emissions by 2045. “It’s not only about targets,” says the President & CEO of Kia. According to him, it is about “inspiring others to join the movement.” For this, the brand will accelerate its ‘Plan S’ strategy that aims to reduce operational carbon emissions.

Kia’s entire European line-up will be fully electrified by 2035. 2040 onwards, Kia will offer only electrified cars in other global markets. What’s more, Kia aims to create a carbon emissions monitoring system for its suppliers and partner companies to encourage them to go green with support from extensive data. Kia will encourage the use of ‘green steel’ as the steel industry, for centuries, has been responsible for massive carbon emissions.

Kia EV9 FAQs

What is the Kia EV9 release date?

The Kia EV9 will debut in 2023, and it will go on sale in the U.S. in H2 2023.

Which models will be Kia EV9 rivals?

The Kia EV9 will compete with the Hyundai Ioniq 7, VW ID.6, Vinfast VF 9, and perhaps even the BYD Tang EV in the global market.

What is the expected Kia EV9 price?

It’s early to determine an accurate price, but expect the EV9 to start at around USD 50,000 in the U.S. market.

Featured Image Source: Hyundai Motor Group