Accompanying news of the EV9’s arrival in the United States, Kia USA has also announced that its first three-row electric SUV will be the first model from the Korean brand to be built in the US.
The EV9 made its US debut appearance during this week’s New York International Auto Show, and is among the principal players of Kia’s ‘Plan S’ drive to sell 1.2 million EVs worldwide by 2030.
While its EV6 sibling is currently assembled at Kia’s South Korean factory in Hwaseong, the EV9, the largest model on the brand’s portfolio, will be built at the company’s only US facility in West Point, Georgia. This potentially means EV9 customers could benefit from tax credits up to US$7,500 for all electric vehicles assembled in North America (including battery components sourced in the US), though no details on this have been provided.
Two powertrains will be available to US customers. The as-of-yet unnamed rear-wheel-drive entry level model sends 215 hp to the back axle and is fitted with a 76.1 kWh battery, while a larger 99.8 kWh example will be offered on both a higher-spec RWD model and the all-wheel drive ‘GT-Line’ flagship. Though US-specific power figures for the former were not announced, the latter will feature a dual-motor setup, one per axle, capable of producing a combined 379 hp. Like the EV6, the SUV sits atop the Hyundai Group’s EV-dedicated ‘E-GMP’ platform.
Tellingly, despite the sheer size of the EV9, the AWD model could potentially hit 60 mph (96 km/h) from standstill in five seconds, thanks to 516 lb-ft of immediate torque. Rather impressively, that’s on par with a stick-shift Volkswagen Golf R.
Full official range estimates have not been provided yet, although the most frugal, unsurprisingly, is likely to be the RWD / 99.8 kWh trim, with which Kia is “targeting 300 miles (around 483 km) of all-electric range.” The 800-volt architecture means DC fast-charging at 230 kW will be available, with a 10 to 80 per cent top up – presumably for the smaller 76.1 kWh battery – completed “in under 25 minutes.” There’s also an onboard 11 kW charger for additional Level 2 charging. ‘Eco’ is one of the four available drive modes alongside ‘Normal,’ the customizable ‘My Mode,’ and the almost-certainly-completely-pointless ‘Sport’ option.
Inside, the big SUV will be available from launch in both six-seat and seven-seat configurations, and given that the EV9 is a whopping 197.4 inches (16.5 ft) long – the largest of any Kia to-date, eclipsing the Telluride, there’s bound to be plenty of room for both passengers and cargo. The trunk space alone will swallow 20.2 cubic feet of luggage, or 81.9 cubic feet when both sets of rear seats are folded flat.
While KIA USA does confirm that the EV9 boasts “up to 5,000 lb of towing capacity” – presumably, though not officially stated to be, courtesy of the AWD GT-Line – a starting price for the US market has not yet been finalized, and is unlikely to be revealed until shortly before sales begin later this year in Q4. All initial models will be imported from Korea until West Point’s production line gets up and running in 2024.