SEOUL — Fast-growing Kia is banking on a first-mover advantage by reaching into the nascent market for larger electric vehicles with its full-size, three-row all-electric EV9 crossover.
The EV9 will claim a spot that is mostly white space at the moment — a segment for roomy, family-oriented cargo and people movers that meet American space preferences but are battery powered.
By tapping into the segment early, Kia doesn't just hope to lure early adopters to its expanding EV lineup. It expects the flagship model to lift the image of the entire brand.
"There are few seven-seat solutions in the market," Artur Martins, Kia's head of global brand and customer experience, told Automotive News at a design preview in Seoul.
"It will take a while for other mainstream brands to enter, so it's a huge opportunity for us, not only in terms of sales but also in transitioning the brand and repositioning Kia."
The rugged EV9 prototype previewed in Seoul cleaves closely to the concept shown at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show. The production version is expected to debut at the New York show in April.