Kia has hit a rough patch with its flagship large all-elective sport utility vehicle, the EV9. According to figures released by the company, sales of the EV9 have nosedived in recent months. Last month, only 408 units were sold, which is a significant drop from the 1,334 units sold in June and 1,251 in July. The slump in sales contrasts sharply with the robust performance of the EV6, which sold about 7,300 units within three months of its launch.
The downward trend in EV9 sales appears to stem from two primary factors: the vehicle’s high cost and certain quality issues. The most expensive EV9 model, with all options included, is priced around 100 million won ($74,850 US) in South Korea. Although state subsidies can bring the price down to around 70 million won, it’s still substantially higher than Hyundai’s midsized petrol-powered SUV, the Palisade, and Kia’s own minivan, the Carnival. According to industry sources, the high price point is partly due to the vehicle’s 99.8-kWh battery, which accounts for about 45% of production expenses.
Kia’s competitors have been quick to adjust their pricing strategies. Tesla has introduced its China-made Model Y equipped with more affordable lithium iron phosphate batteries. South Korean customers can purchase the Model Y for around mid-40 million won after state subsidies. Most German luxury brands are also offering significant discounts in the South Korean market.
Further compounding the EV9’s troubles are issues related to vehicle quality. According to South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, Kia repaired EV9s last month due to errors in various systems, including lamp control signals and charging controls. Some critics have also pointed out potential risks with the software design of the rear-wheel drive motor control device, suggesting it could cause the vehicle to stop while driving according to the Korea Economic Daily.
As we know and despite these domestic market challenges, Kia is planning to launch the EV9 in North America in the fourth quarter of this year, and to manufacture it in its Georgia plant as early as next year. This launch may help buoy overall sales, especially with American customers standing to gain up to $7,500 in tax credits per unit under the Inflation Reduction Act while Canadian buyers will be entitled to similar Federal and Provincial incentives.