Seoul– Kia, South Korea’s second-largest carmaker by sales, said on Thursday it will invest $200 million to produce the all-electric EV9 SUV in its US plant next year.

The flagship EV9 will be the first EV for Kia to be assembled in the US, the company said in a statement.

Kia currently produces four models — the K5 sedan, and the Telluride, Sorento and Sportage SUVs — in Georgia, reports Yonhap news agency.

The Telluride is sold only in North American markets. It is produced in Kia’s US plant and was launched in the US, the world’s most important automobile market, in 2018.

“Like the Telluride, the EV9 has the potential to be another game changer for Kia. This will be the most sophisticated vehicle that we have ever built and will be a standout in the EV market and on the road,” Sean Yoon, president and CEO of Kia North America and Kia America, said in the statement.

Kia’s Georgia plant is undergoing a transformation that will allow the production of the EV9 in the second quarter of 2024, it said.

Kia, a smaller affiliate of Hyundai Motor Co., launched the three-row seater in the domestic market in June. The two South Korean carmakers together form the world’s third-largest carmaker by sales after Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen Group.

The EV9 is Kia’s second model equipped with Hyundai Motor Group’s dedicated electric vehicle platform, called E-GMP, after the EV6 SUV launched in 2021.

The two-wheel-drive EV9 comes with a 99.8 kilowatt-hour battery and can travel 501 kms on a single charge. An all-wheel-drive model is also available in Korea.

The maker of K5 sedans and Sorento SUVs aims to sell 1 million EVs in 2026 and gradually fill its EV lineup with 15 models by 2027.

The company plans to add the EV9 GT-line and the performance EV9 GT models to beef up its EV lineup in the third quarter. The GT-line model adopts the design of the performance GT model to meet diverse customer demands.

For the whole of 2023, Kia set a sales goal of 3.2 million vehicles, higher than the 2.9 million units it sold last year.

Kia has eight plants in Korea — two in Gwangmyeong, three in Hwaseong and three in Gwangju — and seven overseas ones — three in China and one each in the United States, Slovakia, Mexico and India. Their overall annual capacity is 3.84 million units. (IANS)