The Kia EV6 will be in showrooms in all 50 US states within a few weeks. According to reports from Engadget and Autoweek, it fits the definition of a “compelling electric car” that Elon Musk asked for years ago. If you had to make a list of traditional automakers which seem firmly committed to the EV revolution, at the top of the list would be Hyundai/KIA and Volkswagen. One step below would be Mercedes, BMW, Ford, and GM, followed by Stellantis, Renault, and Nissan. (Your opinion may vary. See dealer for details).
First things first. Kia is only planning to make 100,000 of the EV6 for the entire global market in the first year. They are selling like hotcakes in South Korea and Europe, so don’t be surprised if availability is limited in your area. Second, the EV6 will be available with two batteries — 58 kWh and 77.4 kWh — just like the Hyundai Ioniq 5. The EV6 is a little bit more aerodynamic than the Ioniq 5, and so its EPA range ratings are a little higher — 232 miles vs 220 miles with the smaller battery and 310 vs 301 miles with the larger battery.
Another difference is that the base model of each uses 400 volt architecture, while the cars with the larger battery use 800 volt architecture, which means the uprated models can charge faster on road trips. Kia says it is possible to add 217 miles of range in 18 minutes using a 350 kW charger for the cars with the larger battery.
Just Enough Is Enough
Steve Kosowski, manager of long-range planning at Kia America, tells Autoweek the company’s strategy is to offer just enough space, performance, and high tech goodies while maintaining a laser focus on what American consumers say their first EV must have: maximum range. “The more SUV you add to the car, the less estimated range you get. If we stiffen the front end, give it more ground clearance and bigger tires, the range would be cut. Hitting the 300-mile mark all comes down to the right balance.”
Writing for Autoweek, Bradley Berman says, “From the inside, the EV6 doesn’t feel anything like an SUV. There’s no high perch from the driver’s seat. Instead, we peered over a short front end — with a generous passenger space trailing behind. Even with the front seat slid back for my 6-foot-4-inch frame, there was ample space for second row adult passengers.”
He was less fond of the somewhat muted acceleration of the EV6, which has been calibrated to conserve battery power to hit that range target. Even though Kia thoughtfully provides the sound of a jet fighter when the exhilarator pedal is pushed down hard, the result is somewhat less than the neck snapping forward rush Tesla drivers are used to.
Kia EV6 Pricing
Kosowski explained the rationale behind the EV6 pricing, which starts at $42,115 and rises to about $58,000 if the buyer ticks all the boxes on the order form. He says he has been tracking average EV prices for a decade. Back then, non-Tesla EVs such as the Nissan LEAF cost about $30,800, and the average Tesla sold for about $92,000. With the arrival of the Model 3, average Tesla transactions fell to just above $60,000 by 2019 and settled around $56,600 in 2021. Meanwhile, as other automakers introduced electric vehicles, non-Tesla EV transactions prices rose to $49,700 by 2021.
Average EV transaction prices are now converging on $55,000 — just above the typical price of all vehicles. Any remaining premium for the EV6 is wiped out by a $7500 federal tax credit, where available. In other words, the conventional thinking that EVs would only go mainstream when long range models had a price tag of $30,000 or less is no longer true. EVs now go for $50,000 to $55,000 and nobody blinks. That’s precisely where the typical Kia EV6s will sell, especially as long as supplies are limited.
A word about Kia’s model designation strategy. All its battery electric cars will share the EV designation followed by a number. That number will identify where each model falls within the entire range of electric cars from Kia. A 7-passenger SUV in the future might be known as an EV9, while a subcompact might be designated an EV3. By that analysis, the EV6 is right about in the middle of Kia’s upcoming product offerings.
3 Trim Levels
Engadget adds that the EV6 will be available in 3 trim levels –Light, Wind, and GT-Line. The Light has the smaller battery and a 168 hp rear-mounted motor. The others have the larger battery and offer a choice of a more powerful rear motor or dual motors with a total of 320 hp. Its reviewer says, “I was especially impressed with the EV6’s level 2 highway autonomy driving feature, Highway Driving Assist 2. Just click the appropriate button on the steering wheel and the adaptive cruise control will automatically center the vehicle in the lane, maintaining its course and speed even through turns.”
He was much less impressed with the car’s voice command system, which he found to be basically useless, and the complex and confusing digital secondary control screen that make it hard to find routine control functions while driving without taking his eyes off he road. (Many Tesla owners have similar complaints, especially after the latest software update.)
Nevertheless, he had nothing but rave reviews for the AR digital heads-up display in front of the driver, however. “It is absolutely brilliant. [It is] beamed directly onto the front windshield with startling clarity. The vehicle’s speed, the road’s speed limit, the status of various cruise control features, and upcoming turns all appear to be floating about a car length ahead of you. It’s a fantastic, streamlined alternative to the…..overly busy layout of the driver’s cluster. The information can be a bit tricky to read when wearing sunglasses (especially the polarized variety) but other than that, the display is easily understandable regardless of how bright or dark it is outside and can be adjusted to account for the driver’s height and viewing preferences.”
The good news is the Kia EV6 may qualify as that “compelling electric car” Elon Musk always talks about. The bad news is, good luck trying to get one until the company ramps up production in a year or two. It certainly is an attractive machine that looks futuristic without being weird. (The rear end treatment is a little “out there,” though.)
We need more well built, well thought out electric cars to move the EV revolution forward. Hyundai and Kia are certainly doing their part to make that happen.