South Korean automaker Kia said on Wednesday it plans to invest more than $200 million in its assembly plant in Georgia, where it will start production of the EV9 electric SUV next year.
The news comes as foreign automakers are doubling North American production to qualify for a federal electric vehicle tax credit. Assembly on the continent is required for the vehicle to qualify for up to $7,500 under the Inflation Reducing Act (IRA) signed in August 2022.
Hyundai Motor Group, which owns Kia, is also working with battery maker SK On to build a new battery manufacturing plant in the state. SK Innovation has also opened a $2.6 billion battery factory in Georgia to manufacture batteries for Ford.
Kia says it will add around 200 jobs to build the three-row SUV packed with technology, as well as four other models. The EV9 will be Kia’s first EV built in the US
The move is in line with Kia’s latest push to increase EV sales and reach $122 billion in gross revenue by 2030. It is underpinned by a $24 billion investment into the automaker’s electrification strategy which aims to see Kia sell 1 million EVs by 2026. By 2024, Kia aims to also start operating its first dedicated EV factory in Gwangmyeong. Kia plans to release 15 new EV models by 2027.
When Kia first revealed its EV9 SUV back in March, it was clear that the car was perfect for the North American market. It’s affordable and big, has a lot of range, can act as a mobile power source and has a variety of sensors (including cameras, lidars and radars) to enable advanced driver assistance systems.
The flagship vehicle also represents a shift for the automaker, from a reputation as a cheap airport rental to now a high-tech company. The EV9’s infotainment suite and software allow over-the-air updates to nearly every function in the car, a first for Kia.