Australian versions of the upcoming 2024 Kia EV9 will miss out on Level 3 autonomous driving technology, due to local regulations.
One of the headlining tech features of the EV9 is Highway Driving Pilot (HDP), which allows drivers in specific scenarios to let the vehicle drive hands-free using a total of 15 vehicle sensors to manage speed, lane centring and overtaking on highways.
This feature will be offered in select markets including South Korea and North America. However, in Australia this level of autonomy is not permitted on public roads – and Kia’s local division has confirmed the feature will therefore not be available in Australian-spec EV9 vehicles.
Level 3 autonomy refers to ‘conditional driving automation’, which allows hands-off driving in specific circumstances and the driver is still required to be attentive to assistance system prompts and override if and when required to.
CarExpert understands, however, that the EV9 could debut Kia’s Highway Driving Assist (HDA) in Australia.
HDA has been available in overseas markets in Hyundai and Kia products for a number of years.
The feature acts similar to Volkswagen’s Travel Assist in combining adaptive cruise control and lane centring functions via a single button or mode – rather than the separate cruise control and Lane Follow Assist buttons in current models.
Following the launch of the all-new EV9, it’s expected other models in the range will begin to add Highway Driving Assist in Australia – the facelifted Kia Sorento, due here in the fourth quarter, shapes as a likely second candidate.
Pricing and specification details for the new Kia EV9 will be released closer to the electric SUV’s local sales launch, currently earmarked for sometime during the fourth quarter of 2023.
Kia’s local product boss Roland Rivero has already indicated the EV9 will be the most expensive model Kia has ever offered in Australia, likely to kick off in the $90,000-$100,000 bracket when it arrives in limited numbers in the coming months.
Currently, Kia Australia’s most expensive model is the EV6 GT performance hero, priced from $99,590 before on-road costs.
The Kia EV9 will be limited to around 100 units per month after launch, with the brand’s local boss Damien Meredith saying earlier this year the company expects to import 400 units for the latter stages of 2023.
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