This car is the biggest threat to Tesla

This car is the biggest threat to Tesla

Tesla Model Y Kia EV6 The Best Electric

KIA’s new three-row electric SUV is a surprising contender

For more than a decade, if you wanted to drive an electric vehicle (EV), your choice was one of a small handful of quirky underpowered options from traditional carmakers, or a Tesla. Even in the past few years as more companies have started offering options, Tesla has still accounted for the vast majority of EVs sold in the U.S. It’s as though no one could come up with a serious competitor–until now.

Let’s be clear–Tesla makes very good cars. I know, because I drive one every day. Also, Tesla deserves credit for almost single-handedly making EVs a thing consumers will buy. It sells premium cars that people actually want to drive.

The thing is, there are a lot of people who will never buy a Tesla. Whether that’s because they don’t care for the styling, they don’t like Elon Musk, or they just think they’re too expensive, for as much as Tesla has done to make electric vehicles (EVs) a viable product there’s a lot of opportunity to reach those people.

The problem, until the last few years anyway, is that it seemed like no one was trying. Sure, the Porsche Taycan, Lucid Air, and the Rivian R1T and R1S are very nice vehicles, but they will also all set you back somewhere around $100,000 or more.

Now, however, there’s a real competitor from, of all places, KIA. Its new EV9 might just be the most serious threat to Tesla yet, and also, the one no one saw coming.

Look, the fact that KIA has become some version of “cool,” is as surprising to me as it is to anyone. Don’t get me wrong, KIA makes good cars. In fact, we also own a Palisade, which is made by KIA’s parent company, Hyundai, and we love it. I don’t have anything bad to say about KIA, I just don’t think anyone would have expected the company to be the one to build a fully electric SUV this good.

Until now, the best electric SUVs you could buy are the Tesla Model X, the Model Y, and the Rivian R1S, though the last one is almost impossible to come by. The thing is, there are a lot of people who would very much like to drive a three-row SUV that does not look like an egg, and that does not cost $100,000. Technically, the Model Y is less than that, but it still definitely looks like an egg.

The EV9, on the other hand, looks like a three-row SUV. It looks very much like the KIA Telluride or the Hyundai Palisade. That’s because it basically is a KIA Telluride with a big battery. Yes, there is some aerodynamic styling, but it mostly looks like a vehicle that would be at home hauling kids or boxes, or whatever you haul around in an SUV.

A lot of people have stuck “biggest threat to Tesla” labels on a lot of EVs to come before the EV9. The problem is, most of them are niche products for a very small market with big wallets. The KIA EV9 is not that. While the company hasn’t yet released pricing, it’s expected to start around $55,000, which is a reasonable price for a three-row SUV, let alone one powered by an electric motor.

The EV9 comes with a 99.8 kWh battery, which means it should get between 260 and 300 miles on a full charge. Those aren’t huge numbers compared to a Lucid, for example, but you’re paying about a third of the price.

More importantly, however, KIA says that the EV9 can charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 24 minutes. That’s a big deal for anyone seriously considering buying an electric SUV to haul a family on road trips, or for a long commute.

To be clear, I don’t think KIA is going to put Tesla out of business. I do think that it could very well be the automaker that finally loosens Tesla’s grip on the market–especially for fully-electric SUVs. The Model Y is incredibly popular, so popular that it outsells almost all other EVs combined, with the exception of its smaller sibling, the Model 3.

KIA makes and sells about 3 million vehicles a year. It knows how to design, build, and sell cars. And, it seems to be all-in on building them with large batteries and electric motors. Now, it’s getting ready to sell a car that even people who haven’t previously been convinced to get an EV will be willing to consider. That might be the best strategy yet for taking on Tesla, even if no one saw it coming.

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