Kia EV9 to deliver Level 3 Autonomy, is here to fill the large SUV segment

    Australia, like the world, is transitioning to electric vehicles. That means the whole fleet, every segment and the large SUV part of the market, is severely lacking in EV options – introducing, the Kia EV9.

    Kia has had great success with the EV6, but now it’s time to take that future-facing, sporty look to a bigger size.

    Kia says the EV9 has been created to deliver new standards of space, practicality, flexibility, comfort, and technology to meet the needs of millennial families.

    The designers at Kia are doing some of the best work in re-imaging what an electric vehicle can be, inside and out. While many struggle with challenges like resolving the front bar without a air intake or grill, Kia seems to excel in a way many legacy autos can’t.

    When it goes on sale in Q4 of 2023, the EV9 will offer Aussie families, a great mix of what they know and love about owning a large SUV, with a vehicle that’s fresh and modern, perfect for a trip to the shops or a week-long road trip. 

    Size and dimensions

    The Kia EV9 is big, even compared to other big SUVs featuring a length of 5,010mm, a height of up to 1,755mm, a width of 1,980mm and a wheelbase of 3,100mm (200mm longer than the Kia Telluride). This delivers more space and storage than ever before.

    Legroom is generous throughout, regardless of which of the three rows of seats occupants are relaxing in. Even tall drivers feel instantly at home thanks to the effortless way they can enter and exit the EV9 due to its impressive headroom. Once aboard, completely flat floor electric vehicle architecture made possible by the EV9’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) makes it effortless to move around the cabin.

    The sense of ‘space innovation’ exudes throughout the entire cabin, and the design and construction of every element within the EV9 have been carefully considered, crafted, and optimised to enhance spaciousness and wellbeing.

    The SUV’s centre console is a clear case in point, with buttons and functions intelligently and intuitively repositioned within the infotainment display and steering wheel. The additional space this frees up has then been cleverly configured into cupholders and phone slots – small details perhaps, but ones that make a big difference to daily driving. In addition, the EV9 is offered with a floating centre console, which expands to the second-row seats and provides drawer-type stowage.

    With all three rows of seats occupied, the EV9 provide 571 litres of cargo space, but when customers fold down the second and third-row seats, the stowage space available expands to a massive 2,320 litres.

    A living room on wheels

    Equipped with premium quality lounge-style seats, the EV9 not only opens up new levels of comfort but also versatility and flexibility. Kia saw no need for occupants to be constrained by the bounds of conventional cabin design, nor any reason that they might not enjoy natural conversations with the same ease as if they were sitting at home relaxing in their own living room.

    The EV9 is offered with second-row seats that can be turned a full 180 degrees to face the back row. Doing so creates a living room or meeting room-like environment that allows friends, colleagues, and family members to converse in a completely natural manner. The feature is particularly appealing to families, enabling them to better engage with younger children and babies.

    Of course, slightly older family members might be perfectly happy left to their own devices, both literally and metaphorically, in the third-row seats. There, they can take full advantage of charging points for electronic devices, cup holders and reading lights and enjoy an excellent view of their surroundings through the rear quarter glass. And, of course, if no one is occupying the third-row seats, they can be folded to free up more cargo space.

    With the EV9, Kia has truly thought ‘outside of the box’, or perhaps, it may be more accurate to say that they have thought ‘outside of the vehicle.’ This has been done to deliver on the brand’s stridently pursued goal of ‘blurring the boundaries between outdoor and indoor spaces, by giving occupants sitting in the two middle-row the freedom to swivel their seats 90 degrees to face the windows. 

    Better still, if the EV9 is parked up in a particularly scenic location – beside the sea, in the midst of a, forest or surrounded by, mountains for example ­­– the doors can be opened leaving the occupants free to soak up the restorative powers of nature from the comfort of their seat.

    For an even more connected feel that all occupants can enjoy, the panoramic sunroof extends from the second row to the back row, enabling the enjoyment of sunlight during the day and greater appreciation of the softer tones of moonlight as darkness falls.

    Going off-road, no problem

    The EV9 is designed to enable families to take lots of gear and equipment with them wherever they travel. But cleverer than that, it also enables them to power whatever equipment they bring.

    That ability is made possible due to the EV9’s Integrated Charging Control Unit (ICCU), which includes Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) functionality as we see in the EV6, enabling energy to be discharged from the vehicle battery.

    Customers can use up to 3.68 kW of power from the EV9 to charge laptops or power camping equipment, eliminating the need to worry about outlets in outdoor areas.

    With an average laptop charger consuming around 65 watts, a tablet charger utilising 30 watts, and a smartphone charger typically drawing 10 watts, the EV9 has the ability to power electronics for extended periods of up to several days.

    Nor is it just smaller, handheld, electronic devices that the energy in the EV9’s battery can be used to power. Much larger devices can be powered too, such as an electric grill, which typically uses around 1500 watts and an outdoor projector, which uses around 200 watts. 

    Through the Kia Connect Store, customers will be able to enhance their vehicles with Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology, potentially enabling them to sell electricity back to the grid in the future.

    Whatever the requirement, the EV9’s V2L functionality gives families the freedom to enjoy their time together on the road even more, while offering full flexibility for those who need to keep on top of work on the go.

    Technology to enhance the drive and the stop

    Right from the start, during the conceptualisation stage of the EV9, Kia was determined to create a vehicle that elevated the travelling experience and one that placed as much emphasis on the comfort, well-being and user experience of children sitting in the third row as adults up front.

    Up front, the EV9’s Panoramic Wide Display combines a 12.3″ cluster display, 5″ segment display, and 12.3″ infotainment system display for easy vehicle function control and efficient information delivery. In addition, it projects an ambience that lets the driver feel part of an ultra-modern, zero-emission, yet thoroughly enjoyable driving experience.

    The feeling of seamless access to whatever adventure that the open road can offer is enhanced by the Connected Car Navigation Cockpit (ccNC). Fully supported by Over-the-Air (OTA) services, which provide 24/7 access to the Kia Connect Store, and allow for continuous upgrades to digital features and services without visiting a dealership.

    The digital cockpit also features quick control, integrated search, and a new EV mode for improved driver usability and convenience. This mode also enables drivers to personalise widgets and view useful information such as charging station/destination details and the battery State of Charge (SOC).

    While numerous intuitive ways are presented for the driver and passengers to seamlessly engage with the EV9’s advanced technology and features, they can also relax, secure in the knowledge that Kia’s flagship SUV is continuously monitoring its environment, ready to react automatically, if required, to ensure the utmost safety of occupants, other drivers, and pedestrians.

    When it comes to autonomy, the EV9 has an interesting story to tell. Offered with Highway Driving Pilot (HDP), a technology that offers monitoring and safety. The most advanced iteration of the system yet seen from Kia, the EV9’s HDP supports conditional SAE Level 3 autonomous driving, with 15 sensors, including two lidars, providing a full 360-degree field of view for detecting and reacting to potential collisions with other road users.

    For those not acutely familiar with the levels of autonomy, according to SAE, Level 3 means conditional driving automation. This will allow the vehicle to steer, accelerate and brake, and allow the driver to take their hands off the wheel.

    Freedom does come with conditions. You need to be receptive (and available) to respond to a request to take over in a timely manner. This means you can’t go to sleep, you can’t be drunk and current laws would still prohibit you from using your phone, even if the car is driving on a stretch of highway.

    Kia has suggested a future software update would allow you to use the infotainment system to watch videos while HDP is enabled.

    When Kia announced the EV9 was getting HDP in April, they mentioned it would be available in select markets, but today, we have it featured in the Australian press release, so it seems this could be one of the first L3 systems in the market. There is no word on pricing for this feature, but will only be available in certain locations, under certain conditions.

    In addition, the very latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are designed to offer optimum convenience. Kia’s Smart Parking Assist 2 enables the EV9 to park itself without the need for driver intervention, whether in or out of the vehicle, with the driver initiating the procedure via the Kia smart key known as Digital Key 2.

    One of the biggest questions with an EV, is the available range. Despite its size and weight, Kia is targeting a WLTP range of more than 541 km on a single charge. The EV9 is engineered to enable families to undertake lengthy road trips, even though remote areas with little charging infrastructure, with full confidence.

    While Kia hasn’t mentioned the towing capacity in today’s release, from international data, we know it’s good for as much as 2,500kg on the flagship model, allowing for a generous payload. This will of course impact range, so take that into account if you think this is something you’ll do regularly.

    When the time does come to stop and recharge the vehicle’s batteries, it certainly need not be a long time, thanks to the SUV’s ultra-fast charging capability. This technology allows for a charging time of 15 minutes, providing a driving range of up to 239 km, and a 10-80% battery state of charge in under 25 minutes.

    During charging, families can take a short stroll for some fresh air or enjoy some refreshments in a café. However, if they choose not to leave the vehicle, they can simply recline the relaxation seats, close their eyes and rest in the cabin’s low light conditions, before rejoining the road in the EV9 fully rejuvenated for the remainder of the journey. 

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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