Kia’s Electric EV9 Carves a Niche in the 3-Row Crossover Market

Kia is looking to capitalize on a first-mover advantage by entering the market for larger electric vehicles with its EV9 crossover. The brand is hoping to attract early adopters to its expanding EV lineup and expects the flagship model to lift the image of the entire brand. The EV9 occupies a white space segment for roomy, family-oriented cargo and people movers that are battery-powered but meet American space preferences. The rugged EV9 crossover prototype previewed in Seoul closely resembles the concept shown at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show. The production version is expected to debut at the New York Auto Show in April.

The EV9 is a boxy, low-slung crossover with low beltlines, big windows, a spacious cabin, and a sleek interior. The front gets an EV-style mask interpretation of Kia’s distinctive Tiger Face grille, and it keeps the digital light animation seen in the concept. The vehicle features a pixelated LED-light pattern that wraps around the front side fascia, creating an appealing look that Kia plans to deploy across its expanding EV lineup. Other standout features include a frunk under the front hood, rear seats that swivel to face rearward, and a perpendicular turn to look out the window.

The vehicle’s upright greenhouse lends truck-like proportions and creates more shoulder room for a third row of seats. Interior designers kept physical buttons only for critical functions such as climate control, aiming for a sleek, uncluttered dashboard by clustering control stalks for the drive-mode selector and start/stop button around the steering column alongside the usual turn indicator. Cabin décor drops the high-gloss piano black that has been all the industry rage in recent years, opting for a warm gray that designers say creates a more inviting vibe.

According to marketing data, global customer consideration rates for the Kia brand have expanded 60 percent from 2021 through 2022, while positive opinions of Kia have shot up 90 percent. Kia’s U.S. sales have also increased substantially, rising by 23 percent through February. The brand will release the EV9’s technical specifications, including battery details and range, closer to launch. However, executives have revealed that engineers had to sacrifice aerodynamics and driving range to deliver the interior space and blocky squared-off looks of the big crossover.

Kia plans to launch 17 new EV models through 2027 for “full market” coverage below the EV9 flagship. The brand aims to replicate the early mover strategy across its lineup by entering markets where it isn’t yet present. Electrification is like a reset button in the set of brands consumers consider buying; certain brands that were always on the list are suddenly not there because of electrification. The shift brings in new customers who never considered buying a Kia in the past.