Kia’s EV9, the largest addition yet to the Korean brand’s electric SUV line-up, is set to land in Europe next year with a North American example also expected to be in the works.
Following on from its debut at the 2021 Los Angeles Motor Show, this is the first official confirmation that the E-SUV concept will receive a production counterpart, Kia describing it in November last year as “an exciting ideation” of its next all-electric SUV.
In keeping with the brand’s nomenclature, the ‘Concept’ part of the name will be dropped for the standalone ‘EV9,’ Kia further explaining that a production version would “build on the success” of the established EV6, which already sits a few rungs lower in Kia’s lineup.
No official word has been made regarding the production EV9’s arrival in North America, but when the concept was unveiled last year in Los Angeles, Kia North America president and CEO Sean Yoon at the time explained that it “ identifies Kia’s deep understanding of [Kia]’s customers here in the US” and would “help [Kia] lead the way into this important and pivotal era.” With Kia targeting 807,000 BEV sales in 2026 and 1.2 million in 2030, with over 80 per cent of the latter originating from Korea, North America, Europe and China, the EV9 is expected to play a key role, and could thus be ready for North American sales in late 2023 or early 2024.
Measuring 4,930 mm (16 ft) in length, 2,055 mm (6.7 ft) in width and standing 1,790 mm (just under 6 ft) tall, the EV9 is the latest model built atop Hyundai/Kia’s new EV-dedicated E-GMP platform: the wheelbase alone measures 3,100 mm (10 ft). The Korean brand’s largest electric SUV to-date would realistically be a rival to Mercedes’ EQB and Hyundai’s anticipated Ioniq 7.
Though unconfirmed, the EV9 could thus be powered by the EV6’s 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery or an as-of-yet larger capacity battery pack given the EV9’s larger size and weight. Dual and single-motor options are expected to be available as is fast-charging capabilities.
Rather than providing details about the “next-generation all-electric zero-emissions powertrain,” Kia has instead focused on the ‘Opposites United’ nature of the EV9 in its official communique. And, to be fair, the design is a bold move away from the more curvaceous EV6.
“In the Concept EV9, we are showcasing how the SUV of today can evolve to play a fundamental role in the sustainable mobility era,” senior VP of Kia’s global design team Karim Habib explains. “The nucleus of the Concept EV9 is a cutting-edge exterior design, a contemporary and innovative tech-based interior space and an advanced all-electric powertrain. And these are the core principles that will shape our future SUV creations.”
Notable elements at the front include the blanked off front grille (to which Kia has added its definitive ‘Tiger Face’), a distinctive LED light signature, and two-tone angular wheel arches under which lie bespoke 22-inch wheels. The squared-off hood also includes Kia’s newly redesigned emblem. At the rear, there’s a smooth tailgate above a more ruggedly-design two-tone bumper and a continuation of the LED signature.
Despite the boxy proportions, aerodynamic consideration is still given courtesy of front-mounted vents and the dual ‘hood scoop’ which is actually a subtly-hidden solar panel. In a neat touch, the roof rails can be retracted at the push of the button, and wing-mounted cameras replace traditional wing mirrors in an evolutionary step of the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s Surround View Monitor, though it remains to be seen whether the latter will make production.
Inside, the “transformative” cabin is said to boost the mood and well-being of its occupants. The most interesting element of this is that the cabin itself is configurable at the push of a button: ‘Active Mode’ is the traditional driver-focused setup, while ‘Pause Mode’, available when the vehicle is stationary, rotates the front and third row seats around and turns the second row into a table akin to “first-class lounge.”