Kia starts assembling its EV9 in the US

Kia started assembling the EV9 at its existing Georgia plant in the US. The Kia EV9 is the brand’s first electric car built in the country.

Image: Kia

Home to the Sportage compact SUV, the Sorento mid-size SUV, and the Telluride large SUV, the Georgia plant saw a $200+ million investment to become ready to make the EV9. Kia used this investment to give the factory the flexibility to assemble EVs alongside existing models with an international combustion engine and add about 200 jobs. The company has yet to confirm whether the EV9 will be eligible for the US government’s tax credit of up to $7,500.

The federal tax credit is a big incentive for automakers to localise EVs and their components in the US. The local assembly of the EV is mandatory, but there are other requirements, too. The $7,500 incentive is a sum of two equal amounts, with $3,750 depending on the source of critical minerals and the remaining half on the source of battery components.

For the first half, at least 50% of the value of the battery’s applicable critical minerals must have been extracted or processed in the US or in a country with which it has an FTA. Alternatively, they can be recycled in North America. For the remaining $3,750, no less than 60% of the value of the battery’s components must be from North American manufacturing or assembly. Moreover, the critical minerals and battery components should not have been sourced from a foreign entity of concern (China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea).

So far, only the Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong (South Korea) factory was responsible for assembling the EV9. According to the official plant sales data, Kia shipped 8,052 units to the domestic market and 27,098 units to overseas markets from this plant in 2023. This year, between January and April, the company shipped 930 units to the domestic market and 12,211 units to the overseas market.

Kia hasn’t disclosed whether it’s using locally sourced batteries in the EV9 from day one or is yet to. Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) will soon establish two battery factories under different joint ventures in the US, and Kia may source the EV9’s batteries from one of these plants.

HMG has tied up with SK On for a 35 GWh battery production plant in Bartow County, Georgia, and with LG Energy Solutions for a 30 GWh battery production plant in Bryan County, Georgia. The HMG-SK On factory is two hours from Kia’s West Point factory, while the HMG-LG Energy Solutions factory, located right inside HMG’s upcoming metaplant, is a four-hour drive from the same. Both production facilities will start rolling out EV batteries in 2025.

Kia’s US retail sales data has revealed that the company delivered 1,118 units of the EV9 to customers in 2023 and 5,579 units between January and April this year. Those aren’t impressive figures, but the EV9’s sales performance in the US could change soon if it becomes eligible for federal tax credit, even if partly, now that Kia assembles it in the US.

The US-spec Kia EV9 delivers an EPA-estimated range of up to 304 miles, and its prices start at $54,900 (excl. $1,495 destination fee).


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