Update: ‘Positioning & trims,’ ‘Design,’ ‘Kia EV9 Interior,’ and ‘Specifications’ sections updated.
Kia began the second phase of its electrification strategy by introducing the Kia EV6, its first ‘born EV’ in 2021. Several more dedicated Kia electric car models are coming by 2027, including a flagship SUV called the Kia EV9. Here’s a look at the design, interior, variants, and specifications of the Kia EV9.
The exterior of the production Kia EV9 is noticeably close to the concept and nearly just as futuristic. In the era of low-riding, sleek electric SUVs that sacrifice core SUV traits for aero efficiency, the EV9 is 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. Its coefficient of drag is 0.28 Cd.
The EV9 appears large and muscular sporting an unmissable road presence. It has the new ‘Digital Tiger Face’ merged with the new ‘Digital Pattern Lighting Grille.’ The latter, a replacement for a conventional SUV’s radiator grille, is a covered, concave body panel in body color. Multiple lights above the grille greet the driver with various patterns.
Vertical headlamps consisting of two clusters of small cube lamps within the bodywork and ‘Star Map’ LED daytime running lights flank the faux upper grille. They have a sophisticated animated lighting pattern, complementing the full-width light strip. The Light and Wind trims, however, settle for thin-lens horizontal projection LED headlamps.
A functional lower grille at the bottom of the front serves the cooling needs of the EV9’s components. The bumper is edgy but smooth, and it doesn’t have an additional air inlet on the sides.
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 quarter glass for added fizz. Kia has used a chrome strip at the beltline to give it some shine, and this decor element is flush with the bodywork, ensuring it doesn’t disturb the SUV’s minimalist styling.
In addition to good exterior visibility, the big windows and fixed glasses should let in plenty of natural light and make the cabin seem roomy in all three rows. In the U.S., the EV9 has normal, glass-based side mirrors, but in South Korea, digital, camera-based side mirrors are available.
The alloy wheels are almost entirely closed for more efficiency. The Light and Wind trims feature 19-inch alloy wheels, the Land trim has 20-inch alloy wheels, and the GT-Line trim is hoisted on sporty 21-inch alloy wheels.
The production EV9’s rear-end is upright and clean-slate, giving traditional SUV vibes while communicating the model’s focus on space and simplicity. The only thing that strikes off as odd is the design of the ‘Star Map’ vertical LED rear combination lamps, which, like most of the elements here, look nearly identical to the concept. The bumper has a chunky protector, reflectors, and license plate recess. Hidden-type wipers and a smooth, simplistic tailgate contribute to the SUV’s low-profile appearance.
The EV9’s roofline is tapered back in a very subtle manner, appearing almost flat like on a classic SUV but at the same time providing some sense of smooth and efficient motion. Flush roof rails go well with the EV’s clean looks. As seen in the picture below, an option for dual sunroofs will be available on the EV9.
Positioning & trims
As the flagship SUV, the Kia EV9 is big, boxy, and bold like the Telluride. However, the future is not exactly like the past! The EV9 is more space-efficient. Thanks to its bespoke EV platform (E-GMP), Kia was able to build the EV9 with a spacious interior and shorter overhangs than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles. Passengers benefit from a flat floor as well.
Kia offers the EV9 in the U.S. in Light, Wind, Land, and GT-Line trims. Customers are already familiar with these grades from the EV6. As in the EV6’s case, the GT trim won’t be available right from launch. We’re expecting it to join the line-up in the second model year (MY2025).
On the EV9 GT-line and EV9 GT
Customers who want their EV9 to look sportier will be able to purchase it in a GT-line trim that features unique bumpers with gunmetal trim, darkened mirrors, gloss black raised roof rails and ORVMs, 21-inch exclusive wheels, dark-colored beltline molding, and Digital Pattern Lighting Grille in a special, “Focused” lighting pattern.
You don’t often hear ‘GT’ when reading about a large boxy SUV like the EV9, but Kia has confirmed plans for a hot version of its new EV flagship. The company is yet to reveal details and pictures, but there’s no doubt it’ll look even sportier. Moreover, unlike the GT-line trim, it should benefit from a performance upgrade as well.
Dynamic & powerful driving emotions on the road” is the motto of the EV9 GT. It is being developed with an AWD-based rich high-output dual-motor (powertrain) to offer superior acceleration while a reinforced suspension system and optimized tuning secure agile driving, safety, and exceptional stability.Ho Sung Song, CEO, Kia (2023 Kia CEO Investor Day on April 5, 2023)
In March 2023, Kia CEO Ho Sung Song told media that the company plans to launch the EV9 GT in 2025, Autoblog reported on the 28th of the same month. According to a report InsideEVs.com published on May 16, 2023, the company has said that the EV9 GT is just around the corner, indicating it’ll conduct the world premiere in a few months.
The Kia EV9 measures 197.2 in. in length, 77.9 in. in width, and 68.9, 69.1, or 70.1 in. in height and has a 122.0 in. wheelbase.
|Dimension\Measurement||EV9 Light||EV9 Wind||EV9 Land||EV9 GT-Line|
|Length||197.2 in.||197.2 in.||197.2 in.||197.4 in.|
|Width||77.9 in.||77.9 in.||77.9 in.||77.9 in.|
|Height||68.9 in.||69.1 in.||69.1 in.||70.1 in.|
|Wheelbase||122.0 in.||122.0 in.||122.0 in.||122.0 in.|
|Ground Clearance||7.0 in.||7.8 in.||7.8 in.||7.8 in.|
Kia EV9 Interior
The interior of the Kia EV9 is exceptionally futuristic and classy, focused on convenience and comfort way higher than that of any other Kia so far. The dashboard is an open, floating panoramic panel emphasizing the wide body and spaciousness of the SUV. We like the sleek panel housing the central AC vents and a small passenger-side storage area in the central area of the dashboard.
Primary infotainment system control functions are hidden-type touch surfaces integrated into the center dash in the form of capacitive haptic switches, and they offer haptic feedback when used. That’s another new way of operation in a Kia. Thankfully there are physical controls for turning the infotainment system on/off, adjusting the speaker volume, and changing the temperature of the front AC vents, etc., integrated right below the touch panel. Another Kia-first in the EV9 is a column-type electronic gearshift lever with an integrated vehicle start button.
Panoramic Wide Display
For the first time in a Kia, there’s a ‘Panoramic Wide Display’ on the dashboard, a combination of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.3-inch infotainment system display, and a 5-inch climate control display. The 5-inch screen lies between the 12.3-inch screens. A 12-inch full-color head-up display is included, but only in the GT-Line trim.
Two-spoke steering wheel
The EV9’s steering wheel features a luxury-type, two-spoke, dual-tone design. It is similar to that of the K900, but overall, it looks classier from the more angular lower spoke and the sleeker center pad. Moreover, unlike the K900’s steering wheel, it has ‘Drive Mode’ and ‘Terrain Mode’ buttons. In the Land and GT-Line trims, the Kia logo on the steering wheel is an illuminated one.
Practical center console
The EV9 has a floating, oval-shaped center console with two big cup holders, a tablet compartment, and a spacious storage box. It consists of two wireless charging pads and a drawer-type tray as well.
There’s a large free area below the storage box, and it looks big enough to keep ordinary grocery bags. Auto Hold, Downhill Brake Control, Surround View Monitor, and Park Distance Warning buttons are conveniently located on the center console.
Like the driver and front passenger, passengers in the second row can recline their seats to sit more comfortably. Speaking of seats, customers will be able to choose between seven-seater and six-seater configurations. Kia claims the EV9 is the first global EV in which customers will be able to select from four second-row seating options, including three-seater bench seats, basic-type, relaxation-type, and swivel-type two individual seats.
The swivel-type individual seats in the second row can be rotated 180º inward and 90º outward, which means the passengers occupying those seats can face the third-row passengers. Business executives can have meetings on the go, while the elderly or differently abled can have a more comfortable entry/exit. These are just two of the many possible use cases for the EV9’s lounge-style rotating captain’s chairs. Unfortunately, swivel-type seats aren’t available in the U.S. because the safety regulations don’t permit this feature.
The third-row seats have cup holders and mobile device charging ports. The second-row seats slide as required and also tilt forward when third-row passengers want to enter or exit the vehicle, offering more convenience.
A “Relaxation Mode” lets first- and second-row occupants get more comfort with power-operated leg rests. Power adjustment for the front seats is a given, but even second-row passengers can adjust their seats electrically, in eight different ways. Creature comforts include tri-zone a standard tri-zone automatic climate control system as well.
Dynamic Body Care
Kia offers a ‘Dynamic Body Care’ massage in the EV9’s second-row seats internationally, but not in the U.S. While most companies use pneumatic and vibrational methods for this function, Kia offers it by combining tapping motions and vibration. The passenger can select from five levels of tapping and three levels of vibration through a dedicated display to adjust the intensity and method of the massage.
Seat heating is also a little different and more advanced in the EV9. Kia has used metal-coated carbon fiber for the seat-heating wire, which has improved the durability by two times over the existing metal heating wire and reduced the power consumption by more than 15%.
The EV9 seems to have a new type of soft fabric on the dashboard, which gives it a premium and eco-friendly look. It has non-leather polyurethane seating surfaces, select BTX-free paint on some trim pieces, and certain fabrics and carpets made of partially recycled materials. From the headliner to a range of high-touch areas, many interior materials are animal-free.
It should feature many sustainable materials that are not seen in most other Kias. Many of the touchpoints could be made with fishnet debris, recycled plastic, natural wool yarns, plant-based extracts, and other eco-friendly materials.
Like Volvo Cars, Kia intends to phase out leather in all vehicles. The company hasn’t used leather anywhere in the EV9. It says it has used bio-polyurethane (PU) instead of animal skin materials to avoid environmental problems and plant-based materials to significantly reduce chemical usage. The seat covers are made of bio-polyurethane, while the floor mats and garnishes contain upcycled fishing nets and plastics.
The EV9 offers 20.2 cu. ft. of cargo space, which is expandable to 81.7 cu. ft. by folding down all the rear seats. Plus, there’s a frunk (front truck), with a capacity of 3.2 cu. ft. in the Light trim and 1.8 cu. ft. in the Wind, Land, and GT-Line trims.
|Dimension\Measurement||EV9 Light||EV9 Wind||EV9 Land||EV9 GT-Line|
|Luggage Space (behind 3rd row)||20.2 cu. ft.||20.2 cu. ft.||20.2 cu. ft.||20.2 cu. ft.|
|Luggage Space (behind 2nd row)||43.5 cu. ft.||43.5 cu. ft.||43.5 cu. ft.||43.5 cu. ft.|
|Luggage Space (behind 1st row)||81.7 cu. ft.||81.7 cu. ft.||81.7 cu. ft.||81.7 cu. ft.|
|Frunk Space||3.2 cu. ft.||1.8 cu. ft.||1.8 cu. ft.||1.8 cu. ft.|
|Frunk Payload Capacity||88 cu. ft.||44 cu. ft.||44 cu. ft.||44 cu. ft.|
|2nd Row Seat Type||Captain’s chair (6-seater)/Bench (7-seater)||Bench||Captain’s chair/Relaxation chair||Captain’s chair/Relaxation chair|
|Passenger Volume||158.8 cu. ft. (2nd row Bench)/160.3 (2nd row Captain’s chair)||158.8 cu. ft. (2nd row Bench)||160.3 cu. ft. (2nd row Captain’s chair)/157.6 cu. ft. (2nd row Relaxation chair)||160.3 cu. ft. (2nd row Captain’s chair)/157.6 cu. ft. (2nd row Relaxation chair)|
|Headroom (1st row)||41.2 in. (w/o sunroof)/39.6 in. (single sunroof)||39.6 in. (dual sunroof)||39.6 in. (dual sunroof)||39.6 in. (dual sunroof)|
|Headroom (2nd row)||39.8 in. (w/o sunroof)/39.8 in. (single sunroof)||38.8 in. (dual sunroof)||38.8 in. (dual sunroof)||38.8 in. (dual sunroof)|
|Headroom (3rd row)||39.5 in. (w/o sunroof)/39.5 in. (single sunroof)||39.5 in. (dual sunroof)||39.5 in. (dual sunroof)||39.5 in. (dual sunroof)|
|Legroom (1st row)||41.4 in.||41.4 in.||41.4 in.||41.4 in.|
|Legroom (2nd row)||42.8 in.||42.8 in.||42.8 in.||42.8 in.|
|Legroom (3rd row)||30.8 in. (2nd row Bench)/32.0 in. (2nd row Captain’s chair)||30.8 in. (2nd row Bench)||32.0 in. (2nd row Captain’s chair)/29.9 (2nd row Relaxation chair)||32.0 in. (2nd row Captain’s chair)/29.9 (2nd row Relaxation chair)|
|Shoulder Room (1st row)||61.1 in.||61.1 in.||61.1 in.||61.1 in.|
|Shoulder Room (2nd row)||60.0 in.||60.0 in.||60.0 in.||60.0 in.|
|Shoulder Room (3rd row)||55.0 in.||55.0 in.||55.0 in.||55.0 in.|
|Hip Room (1st row)||59.4 in.||59.4 in.||59.4 in.||59.4 in.|
|Hip Room (2nd row)||57.9 in.||57.9 in.||57.9 in.||57.9 in.|
|Hip Room (3rd row)||41.9 in.||41.9 in.||41.9 in.||41.9 in.|
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 long service periods, as say, Telluride customers. It should 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 includes FoD (Feature on Demand) services. Customers will be able to purchase separate individual software functions and activate them. In South Korea, Remote Smart Parking Assist 2 (RSPA 2), additional graphic options for the Digital Pattern Lighting Grille, and ‘Streaming Plus’ video streaming through the Kia Connect Store for their desired usage period, are available for a fee. 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.
The EV9 has a wide range of advanced driver assistance systems. It is the first Kia in North America to feature Advanced Highway Driving Assist (AHDA) and Lane Following Assist 2 (LFA 2). The former, yet to be detailed, utilizes LiDAR-based technology to keep the vehicle at a safe distance from the vehicle detected ahead and centered in the lane. As for LFA 2, it adjusts the vehicle in its lane to keep a safe side passing distance.
Highway Driving Assist 2 (HDA 2), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA 2), High Beam Assist (HBA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Safe Exit Assist (SEA), Safe Exit Warning (SEW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Remote Smart Parking Assist 2 (RSPA 2), and Surround View Monitor (SVM) are some more noteworthy advanced driver assistance systems of the EV9.
EV9 GT-line and EV9 GT
The Kia EV9 GT-line features a distinctive interior theme with darker colors and unique upholstery so that the cabin looks in line with the sportier exterior. The upcoming EV9 GT should also have exclusive touches on the inside. It may sport a dual-motor powertrain and have a 99.8 kWh battery pack. The 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration could be less than 5 seconds.
The Kia EV9 sits on Hyundai Motor Group (HMG)’s E-GMP platform. 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.
Performance & range
Kia offers the 2024 EV9 in the U.S. in Standard Range RWD, RWD Long Range, and AWD configurations.
EV9 Standard RWD
The EV9 Standard RWD has a 215 hp/258 lb.-ft. motor and a 76.1 kWh battery pack. It takes 7.7 seconds for a 0-60 mph sprint and its top speed is 118 mph. It is available only in the Light trim and expected to deliver a range of 223 miles
EV9 RWD Long Range
The EV9 RWD Long Range uses a 201 hp/258 lb.-ft. motor and has a 99.8 kWh battery pack. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds and achieve a top speed of 115 mph. This configuration, also exclusive to the Light trim, is expected to deliver a range of 300 miles.
EV9 Standard AWD
The EV9 AWD employs two motors and the 99.8 kWh battery pack and is available in Wind, Land, and GT-Line trims. The motors produce 379 hp and 443 lb.-ft. of torque in the Wind and Land trims and 379 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque in the GT-Line trim. However, Wind and Land trim customers can unlock the same higher torque output as the GT-Line trim even after getting their vehicle delivered, by purchasing it from the Kia Connect Store.
A 0-60 mph sprint in the EV9 AWD takes 5.7 seconds if the total torque is 443 lb.-ft. or just 5.0 seconds if it’s 516 lb.-ft., while the top speed, irrespective of that output, is 124 mph. Kia expects the EV9 AWD to deliver a range of up to 270 miles in the Wind and Land trims and 243 miles in the GT-Line trim.
The EV9 supports charging at 10.9 kW when using an AC charger and 236 kW (76.1 kWh battery pack) or 215 kW (99.8 kWh battery pack) when using a DC charger. Fully charging the battery pack using an 11 kW charger takes 6 hours and 45 minutes (76.1 kWh unit)/8 hours and 45 minutes (99.8 kWh unit). A 10-80% fast-charging session using a 350 kW charger takes 20 minutes (76.1 kWh battery pack)/24 minutes (99.8 kWh battery pack).
Customers will be able to plug external appliances into the EV9’s charging port and power devices using the EV’s battery, thanks to a V2L function, included as standard in the Land and GT-Line trims. We have already seen E-GMP-based cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 support this feature. It should be possible to supply 3.68 kW of electricity and power camping equipment, a home appliance, a movie projector, a laptop, or another electric vehicle. Tailgating parties with the EV9 will be even more fun than with the Telluride.
In the future, Kia expects to offer a V2X (Vehicle to Everything) function via the Kia Connect Store. Thus, customers will likely be able to supply power from the EV9’s battery pack to the grid or even their homes.
|Aspect\Specification||EV9 Light||EV9 Wind||EV9 Land||EV9 GT-Line|
|Power||215 hp (Standard Range)/201 hp (Long Range)||379 hp (FoD off) / 379 hp (FoD|
|379 hp (FoD off) / 379 hp (FoD|
|Torque||258 lb.-ft. (Standard Range)/258 lb.-ft. (Long Range)||443 lb.-ft. (FoD off)/516 lb.-ft.|
|443 lb.-ft. (FoD off)/516 lb.-ft.|
|0-60 mph Acceleration Time||7.7 sec. (Standard Range)/8.8 sec. (Long Range)||5.7 sec. (FoD off)/5.0 sec.|
|5.7 sec. (FoD off)/5.0 sec.|
|Top Speed||118 mph||115 mph||124 mph||124 mph|
|Battery Pack||77.8 (Standard Range)/99.8 kWh (Long Range)||99.8 kWh||99.8 kWh||99.8 kWh|
|Range (Targeted)||223 mi (Standard Range)/300 mi (Long Range)||Up to 270 mi||Up to 270 mi||243 mi|
|Max. AC Charging Power||10.5 kW||10.5 kW||10.5 kW||10.5 kW|
|Lowest AC Charging Time||6h 45m||8h 45m||8h 45m||8h 45m|
|Max. DC Charging Power||236 kW||215 kW||215 kW||215 kW|
|Lowest DC Charging Time (10-80% SoC)||20 minutes||24 minutes||24 minutes||24 minutes|
Kia recently conducted a global media drive of the EV9 in South Korea. The U.S.-spec EV9 will behave slightly differently, as it will have a firmer setup. The South Korean-spec EV9 Kia offered to drive in its homeland itself has mostly left a positive impression on the testers. Sure, it’s not a truly exciting EV—we’ll have to wait for the GT variant for the full exhilaration, but it handles well and is fully capable to handle the loads on a typical three-row SUV.
As one would expect from a vehicle of this shape and size, the EV9 does exhibit body roll, but it’s not excessive, apparently. The steering wheel has a good weight to it, and that’s only when you want it to, in the Sport mode. Eco and Normal modes, which is enabled at most times, keep it light. The dual-motor powertrain packs plenty of punch, and the handling is good, too. The EV9 is a bulky vehicle, and you’ll feel that on engaging the brake pedal, although the stopping power is adequate, as per the international media.
Kia EV9 Price & Release Date
Kia dealers in Europe have started taking bookings for the EV9. In Sweden, the EV9 is available to order in the GT-Line trim, for SEK 869,900 (USD 78,799). That’s a lot of money for a Kia, but then the EV9 is no ordinary Kia.
Developed over a period of 44 months, the EV9 should raise the bar for design, driving dynamics, performance, and many other aspects at Kia. Its prices in the U.S. could start at around USD 55,000 and go up to nearly USD 75,000. Customer deliveries will begin in Q4 2023.
On July 27, 2023, Kia said in its Q2 2023 report that it plans to start mass production of the EV9 for the U.S. within the third quarter (July-September 2023). The company expects the EV9 to hit the market in the fourth quarter (October-December 2023).
Kia is using the time between the debut and market launch to further refine the EV9 and perhaps make market-specific changes. In May 2023, engineers were seen testing two units without any camouflage in South California.
In South Korea, there is a strong demand for the EV9. Kia opened pre-orders on May 3, 2023, and within just 12 days, they received 10,367 reservations. The majority of the initial demand, accounting for 60%, came from individual customers, particularly the younger demographic in their 30s and 40s. Among corporate customers, 79% opted for the six-seater configuration of the EV9.
Deliveries of the EV9 in South Korea began in June 2023. The EV9 is drawing a significant number of new buyers to Kia in S. Korea, and it is anticipated that the launch will also persuade many hesitant customers in America to reconsider their stance towards the brand. 55% of EV9 pre-orders in the brand’s home market are shoppers who are choosing a Kia for the first time.
Kia Motors Australia’s Chief Operating Officer Damien Meredith has confirmed that the EV9 will be launched in the Australian market in Q4 2023, CarExpert reported on January 26, 2023. About 400 units of the Korean electric SUV have been allocated for Australia for 2023, Damien told CarExpert.
Production & U.S. allocation
Production of the Kia EV9 takes place at AutoLand Gwangmyeong Plant 1 in South Korea. The same factory makes the Kia Carnival and Kia K9 as well.
According to a report Korea Economy published on August 20, 2023, Kia will suspend the production of the Carnival at the end of the month. It is expected that the company will restart minivan production after it gives it a facelift in November 2023. It plans to use the freed-up production capacity to ramp up the output of the EV9.
Kia plans to build 50,000 units of the EV9 in 2023, as per a report Hankyung published on May 29, 2023. Currently, it rolls out approximately 140 units per day. A company official has said that 70% of the produce (35,000 units) in 2023 will be exported to North American and European countries.
Production of the EV9 will take place in the U.S. as well, at the brand’s West Point, Georgia facility, starting in 2024. The factory is being upgraded to be ready for assembling the EV9, Kia revealed in an announcement on July 12, 2023. The company plans to expand its production capacity with an investment of over USD 200 million to start making the fifth, pure-electric model there.
Kia has scheduled the start of production of the EV9 in the U.S. in Q2 2024, which means sales of the locally built units may coincide with the 2025 model year update in Summer 2024. Local production will likely make the EV9 eligible for a federal tax credit of at least USD 3,750.
Out of the total USD 7,500 subsidy under America’s Clean Vehicle Credit program, half is given if the locally assembled EV’s battery components are manufactured or assembled in North America with a minimum of 60% local sourcing (in 2024/2025). The remaining subsidy is unlocked if the percentage of the value of the battery’s critical minerals that are extracted or processed in the United States or a U.S. free-trade agreement partner or recycled in North America is at least 50% (in 2024).
U.S.-made EV9 to get locally-manufactured cells
The localization for the Kia EV9 in the U.S. is eventually expected to extend to the cell level, indicating a deep integration into the manufacturing process. These cells are likely to be sourced from Hyundai Motor Group’s (HMG) joint venture cell plants, with one in partnership with SK On and the other with LG Energy Solutions, both jointly owned at a 50-50 ratio. Hyundai Mobis will be responsible for assembling battery packs using cells from both of these joint venture plants and subsequently supplying them to HMG’s U.S. vehicle manufacturing facilities.
The HMG-SK On cell factory will be located in Bartow County, close to all three of HMG’s U.S. vehicle plants (HMMA, KaGA, and HMGMA). It will have an annual production capacity of 35 GWh, which will be enough to support the production of 300,000 EVs. USD 5 billion is the total expected investment for this factory, where production is likely to start in the second half of 2025.
HMG and SK On’s deal came shortly after the South Korean battery manufacturer signed purchase contracts to procure lithium with resource development companies in countries having free trade agreements with the U.S., including Australia and Chile.
From 2023, for an EV to be eligible for Clean Vehicle Credit, at least 40% of the value of the batteries’ applicable critical minerals (such as lithium) needs to be extracted or processed in the U.S. or a country with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. The percentage will progressively increase over the years (50% in 2024, 60% in 2025, 70% in 2026, and 80% in 2027 and thereafter). This will be one of the several requirements stipulated under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
The HMG-LG Energy Solutions cell factory will be adjacent to the HMGMA vehicle plant. It will have an annual production capacity of 30 GWh, which will be enough to power 300,000 EVs. It will be built with an investment of USD 4.3 billion. Production is expected to start at the end of 2025.
Customers in S.Korea are excited about the EV9, but Kia is unable to leverage the strong market response just yet. The company sold just 1,334 units in June 2023, and 1,251 units in July 2023. In August 2023, sales dropped steeply to 408 units, marking a 67% decline over the previous month. Either many customers are canceling reservations, or Kia is yet to catch up with the demand on the production front. We think the latter is the issue, but that’s not the only challenge.
Several thousand units of the EV9 are plagued with a critical defect. According to a vehicle recall document from South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport we have seen, there’s a communication failure due to a design error in the software for controlling the rear motor. The power supply to the rear motor is cut off abruptly because of this defect. The EV9 comes to a stop while driving because of this unanticipated power loss. On a highway, such an event can trigger multiple collisions.
As we understand, 2,583 sold units and 5,811 unsold units were recalled on August 9, 2023. In total, 8,394 units of the EV9, manufactured between May 8, 2023, and July 28, 2023, are part of the recall. Unusual shaking of the side glass is another defect reported by the local media, and we’ll keep an eye out for any relevant official announcement. We’re hoping Kia fixes all problems by the time of the U.S. launch and that the American-built units are perfect from the get-go.
In addition to manufacturing defects and limited availability, the price is keeping the EV9 away from growth. Starting at KRW 77,280,000 (USD 58,188) in the base configuration and going up to KRW 103,100,000 (USD 77,630) in the top-end trim with all the most expensive options checked, the EV9 is not an affordable Kia by any means. Meanwhile, luxury automakers are offering lucrative discounts on their EVs, with the German Big Three slashing prices by up to KRW 26 million (USD 19,577), The Korea Economic Daily reported on September 7, 2023.
Kia EV strategy in the U.S.
One new Kia EV will be launched every year in America until the end of the decade, according to Eric Watson, Vice President – Sales Operations, Kia America, as reported by Automotive News in June 2022. Kia America will expand its EV line-up to eight models by 2029, as per the report. It aims to convert 30% of sales to EVs by the end of the decade, and 50% early next decade, Watson said.
Such high conversion rates will require a rethink of the company’s marketing and sales strategies. As a first step, the company is developing a network of showrooms and service centers for electric vehicles in the U.S.
Globally, a total of 14 electric vehicles will be offered by Kia by 2027. These will include two new electric truck models, one dedicated and another strategic (presumably a converted ICE pickup truck). Following the EV9 and EV5 this year, Kia is expected to release the EV4 SUV and the EV3 sedan next year globally.
Kia’s early entry into the three-row SUV segment with the EV9 gives it a leg up on Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota, 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
Featured Image Source: Hyundai Motor Group