Kia America has announced it will locally assemble the new EV9 electric SUV at its West Point facility in Georgia, USA – which could mean better supply for Australia throughout 2024.
With sales “expected” to commence in North America during the fourth quarter of this year, Kia’s US division has confirmed local production of the EV9 will start at some point in 2024, making it the first of the brand’s electric vehicles to be produced in the USA.
However, hybrid (HEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variants of the K5, Sportage and Sorento continue to be sourced from South Korea – part of the reason supply of the electrified Sorento is so tight for us.
While Kia will produce the EV9 in the US, markets like Australia and Europe will source their vehicles from Korea.
This means that supply for the Australian market could improve from the current projection of 100 units per month following an initial allocation of 400 units at the end of 2023, given the EV9 is very clearly a product focused on the North American market.
While Kia Australia declined to officially comment on the prospects of improved supply for the EV9, it wouldn’t be the first time that shifts in the company’s production have resulted in better access to its vehicles Down Under.
The combustion-powered Kia Sportage, for example, saw supply open up once North America confirmed local production for petrol-powered versions, freeing up production slots for our market, though that has since changed again amidst component shortages.
The Sportage Hybrid, meanwhile, continues to be sourced from the same factory in South Korea that we get ours from, hence why Aussie access to the HEV has been so delayed – it’s finally due early in 2024.
We’ve recently seen supply of the all-electric EV6 crossover also improve for the Australian market, likely due to initial launch demand from high-priority markets like Europe and North America starting to subside, as our vehicles come from the same factory that exports to the world.
Despite Australia playing second fiddle to these aforementioned regions, it didn’t stop Kia Australia from setting numerous sales records in 2022 despite ongoing supply challenges, and finishing third overall for the calendar year.
The Korean brand leapfrogged parent Hyundai in the manufacturer standings with 78,330 deliveries throughout 2022, posting yearly growth of 15.3 per cent. It was the brand’s best ever result in this country so far.
Two of Kia’s model lines made the Top 20 nameplates for the year, including the Sportage (12th, 18,792 units) and Cerato (19th, 12,354 units); while the Picanto, Stinger and Carnival were all the leaders in their respective segments. The little Kia Stonic also finished second in the burgeoning Light SUV class with 8557 registrations for the year.
The EV9 is only likely to add incremental volume, given its low monthly volume forecast and the fact it’s projected to start within a stone’s throw of $100,000.
Increasing demand for electric vehicles in Australia plus the EV9’s three-row interior layout makes it something of a unicorn – the only other seven-seat EV on sale here currently is the Mercedes-Benz EQB which plays in the same $90,000-$100,000 price bracket.
Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest in the lead-up to the Kia EV9’s local arrival around October.
Are you lining up for the Kia EV9? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
MORE: Everything Kia EV9