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Kia EV9 sizes up BMW’s X5


This is the Kia for people who have never set foot in the brand’s showrooms.

Set to cost more than $100,000 when it arrives in October, the new Kia EV9 shapes up as an alternative to prestige SUVs such as the BMW X5.

It will also be the only large seven-seat SUV on sale with electric power.

Roland Rivero, general manager of product at Kia Australia, said the brand has prestige SUVs in its sites.

“We always like to have benchmark products,” he said.

“There wasn’t a direct target but we had a Volkswagen Touareg in the mix.

“We’ve driven plenty of cars such as the Volvo XC90 and even a BMW X5, there’s a whole raft of competitors.”

Kia has not locked in local prices for the EV9, though the range-topping GT-Line is likely to play in the same space as the BMW, Volvo and VW with an asking price of more than $100,000 plus on-road costs.

That’s new territory for the brand.

Dean Norbiato, general manager of marketing for Kia Australia, said the brand expects 90 per cent of EV9 customers to be new to the marque.

“We’re sitting around 7,000 expressions of interest at the moment, to the point where we’re even having customers going to dealerships and put money down on a product that hasn’t been confirmed for specification or a price standpoint.

“It’s the next level of engagement we haven’t seen before in a product.”

The new Kia EV9 is an all-wheel-drive electric SUV with twin electric motors delivering 282kW and 600Nm. A 99.8kWh battery should return more than 500 kilometres of driving range.

Well-equipped versions have dual sunroofs, twin widescreen displays, a premium stereo and clever cameras that replace conventional side mirrors.

The high-end machine poses interesting challenges for Kia.

Historically, customers paying less than $30,000 for its cars have done so with cash, but the big-dollar EV9 has exposed a need for new finance arrangements including novated leases linked to white-collar businesses.

Damien Meredith, chief executive of Kia Australia, said attractive fringe benefits tax concessions made novated leases an attractive option for electric vehicle customers.

“We will explore the novation aspect a little more,” he said.

“And we believe, and this won’t happen tomorrow, that to get our own finance company into Australia will be a huge benefit to the dealer network, our customers and ourselves.

“They are the two things that we are focusing on from a brand point of view, the novation aspect of it and the captive finance aspect of it.”

Meredith said the switch to electric cars represented the “most exciting time for the industry, ever”.

“It’s certainly exciting at Kia,” he said.

“I’ve been around for a long time. For the last five years it’s been amazing.”


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