South Korean automaker Kia said Wednesday it plans to invest over $200 million in its assembly plant in Georgia, where it will begin production of the electric EV9 SUV next year.
The news comes as foreign automakers double down on North American production in order to qualify for federal EV tax credits. Assembly on the continent is required for vehicles to be eligible for up to $7,500 under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed in August 2022.
Hyundai Motor Group, which owns Kia, is also working with battery manufacturer SK On to build a new battery manufacturing plant in the state. SK Innovation has also opened a $2.6 billion battery plant in Georgia to produce batteries for Ford.
Kia said it will add about 200 jobs to build the technology-packed, three-row SUV, as well as four other models. The EV9 will be Kia’s first EV to be assembled in the U.S.
The move is in line with Kia’s latest push to increase EV sales and hit $122 billion in gross revenue by 2030. That’s backed by a $24 billion investment into the automaker’s electrification strategy that aims to see Kia sell 1 million EVs by 2026. In 2024, Kia aims to also begin operating its first dedicated EV factory at Gwangmyeong. Kia plans to release 15 new EV models by 2027.
When Kia first revealed its EV9 SUV in March, it was clear that the car was perfect for a North American market. It’s both affordable and large, has plenty of range, can act as a mobile power source and has a range of sensors (including cameras, lidar and radar) to allow for an advanced driver assistance system.
The flagship vehicle also represents something of a shift for the automaker, from a reputation for being a cheap airport rental to now being a high-tech company. The EV9’s infotainment and software suite enables over-the-air updates for nearly every function on the car, which is a first for Kia.