Update: ‘U.S. Production’ sub-section of ‘Production’ updated.’
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 ETNews published on November 4, 2021, suggests that internally, the second bespoke Kia electric model goes by the codename ‘Kia MV.’
Here’s a look at the expected design, interior, variants, and specifications of the Kia EV9.
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.
In an era of low-riding, sleek electric SUVs that sacrifice core SUV traits in the name of aero efficiency, the EV9 would be among the few that offer the same dominating presence as any large SUV. It features a partly flat, high-set hood, robust beltline, roofline, and slightly hunched rear section.
TopElectricSUV.com has created a rendering of the production Kia EV9 using details revealed in the official pictures of camouflaged prototypes. It appears large and muscular like its upcoming cousin, the Hyundai Ioniq 7, sporting an unmissable road presence. It has the new Digital Tiger Face with a covered, concave body panel in place of a radiator grille. Bold, vertically stacked headlamps convey power and stability. The production EV9 also features vertical headlights that accentuate its dimensions and traditional SUV proportions.
The profile has angled fenders, flush door handles, large glass panels to ensure good exterior visibility for passengers of all three rows, and a sharp kick in the beltline from the middle of the rear quarter glass.
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 Kia 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 Interior
The Kia 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.
Unlike the EV6, the Kia EV9, in the global market, will feature optional virtual exterior mirrors along with screens integrated into the doors on the inside for playing their live feed. Other noteworthy elements visible in spy pictures floating on the web include light gray upholstery, front seats with decent side bolsters, and sharp cuts on the door panels (interior).
Video Source: YouTube/KindelAuto
The production Kia EV9 may also feature a 27-inch ultra-wide display. YouTube channel KindelAuto has published a spy video of one of its prototypes undergoing road-testing in California, and this video gives a glimpse of the interior. In addition to revealing that the production version has more practical AC vents, we can see that it has a similar panoramic curved display panel on the dashboard. The display panel should host two screens that are integrated seamlessly and give a total digital real estate of 27 inches.
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.
On March 21, 2022, KCB reported that the interior space on the Kia EV9 would be generous. Cabin space is an 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.
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.
The Kia 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.
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.
|Aspect||Kia EV9 Specification (Expected)|
|Max. System Power||308 hp|
|Battery Pack Capacity||100 kWh|
|Range (EPA)||300+ miles|
|Peak DC Charging Power||350 kW|
|10-80% DC Fast-Charging Time||20-30 minutes|
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.
One of the Kia EV9’s attractive features could be wireless vehicle charging. Hyundai Motor Group is developing this technology and is testing it out with the the Genesis GV60 in South Korea. 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. Note that this feature may be restricted to a few markets.
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.
The production Kia 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.
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 in 2023 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.
Kia EV9 Price & Release Date
Kia has confirmed that the production EV9 will debut in 2023. Developed over a period of 44 months, the new flagship SUV will raise the bar for design, driving dynamics, performance, and many other aspects at Kia. It’s undergoing final testing at the company’s global R&D center in Namyang, South Korea, as well as in Europe.
The U.S. launch of the EV9 will take place in the second half of 2023, as Russell Wager, Vice President – Marketing, Kia America, stated at the New York International Auto Show 2022 on April 13, 2022. The prices of the new flagship Kia EV could start at around USD 50,000.
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)
Launch in global markets
In South Korea, Kia plans to launch the EV9 in April 2023, Kwon Hyuk-ho, the vice president of the company’s domestic business unit, said at the 2022 Busan International Motor Show on July 14, 2022, as reported by Hankookilbo the same day.
Kia plans to launch the EV9 in markets around the world, possibly including Australia, which has a strong appetite for tough SUVs. The Aussies missed out on the Telluride because of LHD-only production, but they will likely receive the EV9. Roland Rivero, General Manager – Product, Kia (Australia), has told the media that the SUV’s Australian launch is under consideration, as per a report from The Driven. This is an indication that Kia will make the EV9 in right-hand drive as well. The production of the RHD version could take place exclusively in Gwangmyeong, South Korea.
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.
On August 9, 2022, eNewsToday said in an exclusive report that Kia will temporarily suspend production at the Autoland Gwangmyeong from September 8, 2022, to October 3, 2022. The company will use this time to work on a production line for the EV9. Pre-series production could start soon after the production line is ready, although the South Korean publication didn’t say anything specific in this regard.
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.
Citing industry sources, Maekyung.com published a report claiming that HMG’s upcoming factory in Bryan Country, USA, will start production in H1 2024 (starting with the EV6), not H1 2025. The decision to advance the commercial production by a whole year is probably in response to the Inflation Reduction Act that made plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles imported from outside North America ineligible for federal tax credits. The company should launch the three-row SUV in the country as an import and localize it later, similar to the strategy followed by Volkswagen with the ID.4.
U.S.-made EV9 to get 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 2.3 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.
Kia EV strategy in the U.S.
Globally 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).
United States will receive one new Kia EV every year until the end of the decade, Eric Watson, Vice President – Sales Operations, Kia America, has confirmed, as per an Automotive News report dated June 17, 2022. Kia America will expand its EV line-up to eight models by 2029 in the U.S., as per the report. It aims to convert 30% of its sales to EVs by the end of the decade and increase that figure to 50% early next decade, Watson said.
Such high conversion rates 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.
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 now part of the lineup, the demand for electrified Kias in America should continue rising.
Kia’s early entry into the three-row SUV segment with the EV9 gives it a leg up on Ford and GM, who have yet to enter this market. The Telluride, while not a segment leader, has been fairly successful and has helped to improve Kia’s brand image. We imagine that customers who are waiting to buy the Telluride in its highest trim could be tempted to spend a little extra to get the EV9, especially if they have no reservations about electric cars!
Kia EV9 FAQs
What is the Kia EV9 release date?
The Kia EV9 will go on sale in the U.S. in the second half of 2023.
Which models will be Kia EV9 rivals?
What is the expected Kia EV9 price?
Expect the Kia EV9 to start at around USD 50,000 in the U.S. market.
Featured Image: TopElectricSUV’s rendering of the Kia electric SUV.