Go to Source April 21, 2022
Kia America CEO Steven Center had news to share with the press while at the New York auto show recently. Motor Authority was on hand and reports that a production version of the 7-passenger EV9 (Kia names its electric models based on their size, not in their order of appearance) will go on sale in America in the second half of 2023. The EV9 is pretty much the size of the current Telluride, a 7-passenger conventional vehicle — part SUV and part railway car — that can tote lots of folks and all their stuff from one place to another comfortably.
The concept version of the EV9 shown in Los Angeles last year featured the de rigeur coach doors designers are so fond of for their show cars, but they won’t make it into the production version of the car. (Surprise! Surprise!) In LA, Karim Habib, head of the Kia design center, told Green Car Reports an electric vehicle without a B-pillar could be designed to pass crash tests at some point in the future.
Kia America Chief Designer Tom Kearns said the Telluride has some rounded and softer corners to its boxy shape. That contrasts with the EV9 concept, which features lots of hard lines, creases, and sharp edges. Kearns says 80% to 90% of the look of the Concept will make the transition to the production car. The interior will not incorporate many of the features included in the Concept. “We took more liberties with the interior on that concept,” Kearns said.
The EV9 will have an EPA range of 300 miles and start at around $50,000. Company executives said 300 miles of range is the “sweet spot or minimum entry for a larger vehicle.” Beyond that, they said, adding more range means adding a bigger battery, which in turn adds weight to the vehicle, requiring heavier, more robust components like brakes and suspension items. In other words, there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to making cars with more range. The company hasn’t released details about the size of the battery in the production car.
Putting aside aesthetics, the EV9 is pretty much a box on wheels and will take a lot of energy to push through the air, particularly at highway speeds. The good news is the car will be built on a stretched version of E-GMP electric car platform shared by Kia and Hyundai, which means its electrical system is based on 800 volt architecture, which in turn means it will be able to make use of the most powerful EV chargers currently available. Many EV drivers are discovering that fast charging is actually preferable to more range. Bi-directional charging for either vehicle to load, vehicle to home, or vehicle to grid operation will also be part of the EV9 package.
Steven Center says the price gap between the EV9 and Telluride will be similar to that of the Niro EV and Niro hybrid, or between the EV6 and Sportage. The models referenced all have about a $15,000 price differential, which would give the EV9 a roughly $50,000 starting price based on current Telluride pricing, according to Motor Authority.
The EV9 will be just one of the 14 EVs Kia plans to launch between now and 2027. (The EV6 is already in showrooms and getting rave reviews from owners.) Two of those vehicles will be electric pickup trucks based on the E-GMP platform, Center said. He noted the low center of gravity created by the battery pack being mounted low in the chassis is an advantage when making an electric pickup truck.
For those hoping for an affordable battery-powered trucklet similar to the Ford Maverick, you may be disappointed. Center says the trucks will be designed for world markets and may or may not be sold in the US. They will be focused on hauling things like dirt bikes, kayaks, and the like rather than carrying concrete pipe or pig iron. They won’t be “iconic drop a piano from a six story building into the bed of a pickup truck” type vehicles, Center said.
Russell Wager, vice president of marketing for Kia America, did acknowledge that Kia dealers in America would love to have such vehicles to offer customers, but added that the pickups from Kia won’t be a value-oriented product like the Ford Maverick but more premium products. “Kia is no longer America’s Best Value. For years, we branded ourselves as America’s Best Value. That’s not what the brand is about anymore,” Wager said.
That’s a shame. Kia and Hyundai used to be the Chevrolets of the Korean model lineup. Now, apparently, they are more like Buicks and Oldsmobiles. The cost of batteries seems to have forced the entire auto industry to focus on the higher end of the marketplace. We really need somebody to build electric vehicles for more price conscious consumers. Perhaps that is the strategy the Chinese manufacturers will follow.
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