2022 Kia EV6 Poised To Draw Attention From Tesla
Kia’s choice of a name for its newest electric car—the EV6—may be a yawner, but the sporty crossover’s looks, power, range and loads of standard equipment make it an exciting entry in the increasingly crowded compact electric crossover segment.
The U.S. version, which made its U.S. debut Monday evening in New York’s Times Square, also will be a 50-state car, sold and serviced by all of Kia’s more than 750 dealerships.
The decision to launch nationally rather than limiting sales initially to a dozen or so EV-friendly states, like California, that have adopted strict zero-emission vehicle requirements underscores Kia’s commitment to an electrified future.
The EV6 is one of 11 electrified models—six of them for the U.S. market—that the automaker is launching globally by 2026. “Electrified” is an inclusive term for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles.
Kia also is signaling its commitment to vehicle electrification with a name change for its operating units. It’s officially dropping “Motors” so that the U.S. arm, previously Kia Motors America, is now Kia America.
The change is part of a $25 billion “transformation” from mere automaker to a “mobility” company with interests in vehicle sharing, dedicated delivery vehicles, sustainable vehicles and other “personal transport solutions,” Russell Wager, Kia America’s head of marketing, told Forbes Wheels.
Performance is still part of Kia’s future, though. At the top of the EV6 line, the GT trim will offer a Tesla-challenging 576 horsepower good for a 160-mph top speed and zero-to-60 acceleration of 3.2 seconds. It will be the quickest vehicle ever offered by Kia. Some of the Kia EVs to follow will share the GT’s high-performance powertrain as well as the naming convention of EV plus a number—meaning the EV7 should be next.
At the bottom of the EV6 hierarchy, a variant with a 58-kWh battery, rear-wheel drive and offering 167 horsepower should give Kia an electric car that is among the most affordable in the U.S. market.
Kia’s EV6 is the first of those budget-minded solutions, although not the first EV sold by Kia. That honor goes to the Niro EV, a subcompact derived from the Niro hybrid.
Unlike the Niro, the EV6 was designed from the ground up to be a fully electric model. It rides on a new platform co-developed with corporate stablemate Hyundai Motor specifically for battery-electric vehicles.
While the GT will be the top model in the EV6 range, it won’t be the first to market in the U.S.
Kia will launch here with the limited production—1,500 units only—EV6 First Edition, to be priced at around $60,000 before any incentives, including a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500.
Pricing for other trims and option packages won’t be announced until closer to their market launch in the second-quarter of 2022.
The First Edition will get the EV6’s dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain rated at 313 horsepower. It also will have a 77.4 kWh “long-range” battery pack that, Wager said, is targeted to come to market with a federal EPA range estimate of 300 miles per charge.
The limited production model will come with special First Edition badging, three model-specific color schemes including Glacier white with dark green interior, and yellow or matte gray with black seats. It will be fully equipped with features such as 20-inch alloy wheels, Kia’s augmented reality head-up display, a 14-speaker premium sound system and remote automated parking assist.
EV6 First Edition buyers will be offered their choice of a home charging unit, a charging credit – the amount hasn’t been determined—on Electrify America’s nationwide public charging network—or an Apple Watch.
Customer choices will help determine whether Kia will provide home chargers or other charging assistance with the other EV6 trims when they hit the market, Wager said.
Kia dealers will start taking orders for the First Edition on June 3 with deliveries to customers starting in the first quarter of 2022. Other EV6 trims (except the GT) will hit the market in the second quarter.
Fast is Last
The dual-motor, all-wheel drive EV6 GT won’t be available until late 2022.
Despite its tardy market entry, the 576-horsepower, high-torque EV will be able to beat many super-quick internal combustion cars to the finish line in a quarter-mile drag race, if a promotional video shared by Kia earlier this year is to be believed.
Electronic all-wheel drive with a limited slip differential for increased handling and performance will be standard on the EV6 GT.
Kia will offer two other trim levels, a base EV6 and an EV6 GT-Line, which is more of an appearance package. Each will be available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, both with the 77.4-kWh long range battery pack. A rear-wheel drive variant with a 58-kWh battery with much less range—Kia hasn’t offered its estimate yet—is also available.
The EV6 will hit the market a few months after corporate stablemate Hyundai Motor launches its Ioniq 5 EV—an electric crossover that shares the same platform and powertrain components as the EV6.
Hyundai is not providing the 58-kWh battery for U.S. models of the Ioniq 5 – the range would be too low.
Visually, the Kia EV6 abandons traditional upright SUV styling in favor of an almost wagon-like silhouette reminiscent of the Jaguar iPace EV or a sleeker, sexier version of the second-generation Nissan Leaf. Think of it as a crossover with a lot of sporty touring car DNA.
The compact electric vehicle is the first to show off Kia’s new design language and its new logo and illustrates the automaker’s intent to use design to further separate its vehicles from those of Hyundai.
While the small EV6 is built on the same platform as the Ioniq 5, Kia designers at studios in Southern California, South Korea and Germany collaborated to develop a distinct look, inside and out.
In the past, many Kia vehicles not only shared powertrains and underpinnings with Hyundais, they shared a lot of sheet metal and interior bits. Over the past decade Kias have become steadily more distinctive stylistically, and the EV6 takes Kia’s evolving visuals even further from Hyundai’s.
It “marks a turning point in Kia’s history” as the company changes from mere vehicle builder to a “mobility platform provider,” said Ho Sung Song, Kia’s president and chief executive.
For the EV6, designers penned a long fastback roofline that slopes downward at the rear and seems to float atop the window glass. Door handles are flush and body-colored, rendering them almost invisible.
The crossover’s front fenders and rear haunches bulge upward, the top half of the rear liftgate is canted sharply forward. A glossy black character molding on the door bottoms connects through the rear wheel cutout with taillights that sweep upward from the rear wheel arches and across the lift gate in an unbroken line.
Narrow vertical headlight lenses above a thin, chin-mounted air intake are supposed to evoke what Kia’s designers call the company’s new “digital tiger face.”
Inside the EV6
Most of today’s EVs feature fairly minimalist interiors, with large driver information and infotainment screens replacing the multitude of buttons, switches and dials that once adorned instrument panels and center consoles.
The 2022 Kia EV6 is no exception.
A two-spoke steering wheel houses most of the switches needed to control the audio system, hands-free phone operation and driver assistance features such as cruise control. A single row of manual controls in the center of the lower dash runs the climate system.
A center-mounted infotainment screen features a single large knob, apparently for the 14-speaker audio system. The driver gets a large digital screen that displays information such as speed, battery use, range estimates and the status of driver assistance and advanced safety systems. Both 12-inch screens are housed in a single freestanding enclosure mounted on a curved upper dash.
In addition to the large driver information screen, the EV6 also gets an augmented reality head-up display that superimposes data such as navigation directions, speed and road sign information on a drover’s real-world view of the road ahead.
The center console in the EV6 floats above an open storage bin sized to hold laptops, purses, briefcases or other large items.
In another departure from the Ioniq 5’s interior treatment, the Kia EV 6 “zero gravity” front seats don’t have built-in footrests. The Hyundai’s extend when the seat backs are lowered to provide a comfortable resting place for the driver and front passenger while waiting for the battery to charge at a DC quick-charge station. The EV6’s front seats simply recline.
The EV6 has a small front storage area (or “frunk”) under the hood and offers 27.7 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats. With those seat backs folded down, total cargo area expands to 53.5 cubic-feet. While not the best of the class, the cargo area is competitive.
If more stuff needs to be hauled, the EV6 with the long-range battery will be able to tow a small utility trailer. The U.S. version’s tow capacity hasn’t been set, but for the nearly identical European version it is 990 pounds when the battery charge is at 35% of capacity or more.
Kia hasn’t yet released the full laundry list of features and equipment for the EV6, but called the front bucket seats “relaxation” seats and said they are ultra-thin to further increase interior free-space and room for movement.
Advanced driver-assistance safety tech features include Kia’s highway Driving Assist 2 package that bundles full-range adaptive cruise control with lane keeping and lane centering assist. It includes the ability to automatically change lanes when prompted by a flick of the turn signal stalk, and while the driver’s hands remain on the wheel.
Also part of the standard safety tech package are blind spot warning, a driver attention monitoring and warning system, forward collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic avoidance assist and a navigation system based automated system that slows the car in advance of upcoming curves.
“Shift” paddles mounted on the EV6 steering wheel permit the driver to select from several levels of regenerative braking to help recover kinetic energy as the car slows. The highest level, or i-Pedal, enables “one-pedal driving” in which the car will come to a complete stop using only the regenerative braking mode. In many one-pedal driving cases the driver doesn’t have to apply the brakes.
The EV6 also will come with a safe exit warning system. An audible alarm sounds if a roadside door is opened when the car is parked and the sensors pick up an approaching vehicle.
Remote parking assist is also available. It uses cameras and sensors to enable the car to autonomously park or pull out of parking spaces while the driver is outside the vehicle.
Other features—not all available in all trims—will include a 14-speaker audio system, wireless smartphone charging, a hands-free power tailgate, LED lighting throughout, “vegan leather” upholstery and Kia’s UVO connected car link with an available Wi-Fi hotspot, cloud-based trip routing to help avoid traffic and maximize efficiency and range, automated emergency notification and last-mile navigation that provides walking directions to a final destination within 1.2 miles of where the vehicle is parked.
Like its Hyundai cousin, the Kia EV6 will be able to use its battery pack to run electrical equipment—tools, outdoor lights, audio systems and other appliances—via a 120-volt outlet on the base of the second-row seats.
The EV6 long-range battery is capable of providing 120-volt power continuously for at least 36 hours and also can supply power for low-speed charging of another EV’s battery pack at a rate of 1.1 kilowatt per hour (or 10 hours to provide 11 kWH of charge).
Plugging-in those appliances or another EV, however, will have a cost in terms of diminished range.
Kia calls it the V2L feature, descriptive of the path the power takes from “vehicle to load.”
More to Come
Kia hasn’t disclosed on-sale dates or pricing and said that information, along with more content and features detail, would be available closer to launch time.
To remain competitive with the Ioniq 5 and other EVs in the compact crossover segment, however, the Kia EV6 is likely to start at or under $45,000 before any incentives.
Sharing to Cut Costs
Both the EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 are built on a new, jointly-developed platform designed specifically to handle electric vehicle powertrains, battery packs and other underpinnings while allowing for a variety of body styles and sizes. Kia says that seven of its new EVs, including the EV6, will be built on this platform.
The E-GMP or Electric-Global Modular Platform allows for underbody mounting of the cars’ battery packs. It follows an industrywide platform design trend for EVs that bundles all critical powertrain and drivetrain gear in a stand-alone package, eliminating the cargo- and passenger-space penalties and ride and handling compromises that plague EVs adapted from internal combustion vehicle designs
As a result, the 2022 EV6, while classed as a compact, is expected to be fairly roomy inside. Kia interior design chief Jochen Paesen said it has the interior room of a midsize crossover. Ride and handling should be sprightly, in keeping with the promise implied in the sporty design.
Under the Hood
With the exception of the GT model, the Kia EV will use a 160-kilowatt electric motor to drive the rear wheels and, for all-wheel drive versions, an additional 70 kW motor for the front wheels.
That means 218 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from a rear-mounted electric motor in rear-drive versions fed by a 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The same trims with all-wheel drive will get a boost to 313 horsepower and 446 pound-feet.
The all-wheel drive EV6 GT will have dual motors—160 kw up front and 270 kW on the rear axle—with a combined output of 576 horsepower and 546 pound-feet of torque.
The rear-wheel drive, 58 kWh battery pack variants will offer 167 horsepower and 258 pound-feet.
The EV6 will have the same battery charging system as the Ioniq 5, including a speedy DC quick-charging capacity of up to 350 kilowatts as charging stations of that power become available.
It is supposed to be able to replenish its batteries in under 30 minutes, or add almost 70 miles of range in under five minutes using such a system. DC quick-charging supports longer-range travel in EVs, such as vacation trips and weekend getaways. It generates heat levels that can hasten battery degradation so isn’t intended to replace regular frequent charging at home or the workplace
For 240-volt home and workplace charging, the EV6 will be equipped with an 11-kilowatt charger, which can take the 77.4 kWh battery from 90 percent discharged to fully recharged in just over seven hours.