The three-row Kia EV9 has been a critical hit so far, but it's had one major drawback: being built in Korea, it doesn't qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500 unless it's leased. That's going to change soon enough, because starting today, the EV9 is an American-built SUV. 

Kia and local politicians in Georgia today announced that the automaker's plant in West Point is online, and without the delays that have dogged other EV factories. The milestone puts the electric SUV on track to qualify for the federal tax credit and also adds the SUV to a small group of American-made three-row electric SUVs, including the Rivian R1S and Tesla Model X.

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Hyundai and Kia are delivering on their promises.

At a time when most U.S. automakers are delaying their EV plans, announcing mass layoffs, and pushing back affordable models, Hyundai and Kia have largely stuck to their promises. And looking at their double-digit percentage growth in their EV sales, it seems to be working for them.

The news was announced by Kia and local officials like U.S. Senator for Georgia Jon Ossoff, who has been championing federal incentives and American manufacturing to boost the state’s economy. “I congratulate Kia Georgia on this huge milestone reached less than two years after the enactment of made-in-America manufacturing incentives we passed into law,” Ossoff said in a statement.

Currently, the Kia EV9 is manufactured at the Autoland Gwangmyeong car plant in South Korea. Kia planned to manufacture some 50,000 first-model-year units at this plant, and then diversify production overseas this year onwards. Until now, it was Kia’s only production line for the EV9, capable of churning some 140 units daily.

Gallery: 2024 Kia EV9 First Drive

It’s available in the U.S. in five trims and six or seven-seat configurations. Customers can choose from two battery capacities. The smaller 76.1-kilowatt-hour battery pack can deliver 230 miles of EPA estimated range. The larger 99.8 kWh battery is good for up to 304 miles of range on the rear-wheel-drive version.

The EV9 garnered praise for its range and performance in early reviews, but its high sticker price is a sore point. It starts at $54,900 for the base rear-wheel-drive version with the smaller battery and stretches to $73,900 for the GT-Line AWD with the bigger battery.

However, it’s expected to benefit from local battery manufacturing. Hyundai-SK and Hyundai-LG Energy Solution battery plants are expected to go online in Georgia later, so we expect the EV9 to qualify initially for the partial tax credit, and later for the full tax credit at some point in 2025 when the battery plants go live.

Hyundai Motor Group Breaks Ground on Metaplant America Dedicated EV and Battery Plant

Hyundai Motor Group's Metaplant America in Georgia, a dedicated EV and battery manufacturing facility.

Georgia is part of the rapidly growing Battery Belt in the Southeastern U.S., garnering the highest share of federal incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act for clean energy projects. Investments worth $18 billion have been announced in Georgia, spread across battery, EV, and solar projects. This would create some 11,000 clean energy jobs in the state.

Kia also manufactures the Telluride, Sorento, and Sportage SUVs at the $2.8 billion West Point plant. The facility runs round the clock, with three shifts per day, and has a capacity of making 350,000 units annually, with exports to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and some Pacific nations.

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