Pure-electric Kia EV9 scheduled for launch in 2023

Published: 30 March 2022

Kia’s flagship EV to reach Europe next year
Based on the brand’s e-GMP underpinnings
Long range and short charge times expected

Kia. It’s one of those car brands that have come on in leaps and bounds in the past decade, graduating from making cheap family runabouts to properly desirable vehicles (such as the EV6 crossover and the Stinger GT) that rival the best cars from Volkswagen and Audi.

The company doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, either. In 2023, Kia will launch a new flagship, seven-seat electric SUV called the EV9, (previewed here in concept form), which will compete with the likes of the Tesla Model X, Mercedes EQB and Audi e-tron. This is ambitious progress considering Kia was still selling the Pride at the turn of the century.

kia ev9 side

The EV9 will sit above the EV6 in Kia’s electric line-up, offering more space, more imposing styling and better practicality. And, because it’ll be based on a stretched version of the EV6’s e-GMP underpinnings, it’ll have the same 800-volt electrical system. That means superfast charging speeds – the EV6 can charge from empty to 80 percent in just 18 minutes.

Kia hasn’t yet told us how far the EV9 will be able to travel on a single charge but, to be competitive in the market, it’ll need a maximum range of around 300 miles. That would put it well ahead of the 260-mile Mercedes EQB, but behind the 348-mile Tesla Model X.

This isn’t an unreasonable goal, though. Kia’s engineers have an extra 300mm of space to use between the EV9’s axles, which means there’s plenty of room for a bigger battery. The concept’s roof bars also retract into the roof, the alloy wheels feature aerodynamic covers and there are cameras in place of conventional door mirrors, all of which allow the SUV to cut through the air more cleanly and eke the most amount of range from its battery pack. 

Clever stuff. What else has Kia told you?

Quite a lot, but most of it is marketing fluff. For example, the brand’s design team told us that the EV9 Concept’s styling is “inspired by water.” No, we couldn’t figure that one out either. Normally, when water is this solid and blocky, it’s bobbing around the Arctic Ocean with a family of polar bears riding on it.

Apparently, the EV9 is all about “serenity, calmness and wellbeing,” as well as being one with the planet. And while all of that might sound like an extract from the hippie handbook, there’s some genuinely clever sustainable engineering underneath the EV9’s surface.

The flooring is made from recycled fishing nets, the seat upholstery is made from recycled plastic and the “leather” you see in the cabin didn’t come from a cow. It’s a vegan alternative that kicks off Kia’s plans to gradually reduce the use of animal leather in its vehicles.

kia ev9 interior

Kia also says that the Concept’s cabin has a trio of modes that can transform the car’s seating layout to suit the situation. The first, called Active, makes the cabin look like your average car, with all the seats facing forward. It’s used when the car is being driven.

The second two settings can only be activated when the car is parked up. Pause mode rotates the front seats to face the rear, and the middle row of seats fold into a table, which Kia says makes the interior feel more like a “first class lounge.”

The third setting is called Enjoy mode. It rotates all of the seats to face the rear of the vehicle and opens the tailgate, which Kia says gives “all occupants the opportunity to connect with the outside environment and gaze ahead and beyond the vehicle while sitting comfortably.” Nice idea, but we’re not sure why that couldn’t be done looking out of the windscreen.

Any fancy technology to report?

Plenty. The dashboard features an ultra-wide 27-inch display, which has a series of menus to control the car’s climate controls and media functions. The various menus can be navigated using touch-sensitive buttons on the dashboard.

Kia has also updated its “Tiger Nose” grille for the electric era, swapping its grille vents for a solid body-coloured panel with pixel-art style daytime running lights. However, when the car is switched off, those pixels become invisible – and the grille just looks like a normal panel.

kia ev9 rear

See that massive vent in the bonnet, too? Well, it’s not a vent – it’s actually a solar panel that Kia says can trickle charge the car’s battery pack. Naturally, the amount of electricity it can harvest is small because of its size, but every little helps.

Bear in mind that everything mentioned so far relates to the concept, so some of it (such as the revolving seats) will be excluded on the production model for reasons of cost, practicality and safety. However, there’s a good chance those sustainability ideas will come good.

Read our Kia reviews here

By Luke Wilkinson

Bauer Automotive staff writer. Unhealthy obsession with classic Minis and old Alfas. Impenetrable Cumbrian accent