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EV6 marks new era for Kia Australia

Kia concludes Australian dynamic calibration for EV6 electric flagship, launch in Q1

9 Dec 2021

NEXT year promises to be a landmark for Kia Australia and the start of a new era of electrification.


The Korean brand, which is tracking to finish this year as the fifth best-selling car-maker in the nation, will offer a new flagship model – the EV6, its first dedicated electric car – through virtually its entire dealer network from the first quarter of 2022.


Having already broken Kia Australia’s records for expressions of interest – half of which have come from people new to the brand – the EV6 has just finished being put through the process of Australian tuning for ride and handling.


A sharply styled, spacious crossover based on Hyundai-Kia’s all-new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the EV6 is the first of 11 new battery electric vehicles (BEV) Kia will launch by 2026, seven of which will be built on the E-GMP architecture and four to be variants of existing models.


Speaking at a recent media preview for the EV6, Kia Australia general manager of product Roland Rivero described the new model as “the most stylish, luxurious, and advanced product that the company has sold in Australia, replete with suspension tuning specific to our market”.


Suffice to say, this cousin to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a halo product that will spearhead the brand’s transition to a new era of electrification.


Kia Australia general manager of marketing Dean Norbiato told GoAuto that more than 16,000 pre-launch expressions of interest had been received for the EV6, exceeding all previous Kia models equally shared between existing and new customers.


However, the initial allocation of vehicles for the Australian market is only 500 units, deliveries of which will be staggered throughout the year.


Unlike Hyundai’s online-only ordering for the Ioniq 5, Kia Australia has instituted a policy to distribute stock to dealers “in a fair and equitable manner” and is “in continuous dialogue with head office” about increasing local allocations.


Kia Australia made the decision to distribute the EV6 throughout its entire dealer network, where it will occupy the same floor space as the rest of the products in the brand’s line-up. 


Also setting the EV6 apart from the Ioniq 5 is the Australian market suspension tuning.


Kia’s local product team and its ride and handling engineer, Graeme Gambold – who has localised the suspension tuning of more than 50 Kia models during the last 10 years – along with their counterparts in Namyang, Korea, worked together through pandemic constraints to effectively customise the EV6 to best suit Australian roads and driving styles.


Mr Gambold told GoAuto that flat and wide battery packaging integral to the E-GMP underpinnings mean the EV6 has a low centre of gravity roll dynamic compared with internal combustion cars, which facilitates light, nimble and responsive handling.


However, when tuning for large body movements on country roads at 100km/h in Australia, an EV exhibits a lot of vertical movement due to its high kerb weight (the EV6 weighs about two tonnes).


Therefore, Mr Gambold and his colleagues worked closely with ZF Sachs, which supplies the EV6’s shock absorbers that incorporate Sensitivity Damping Control (SDC) technology, to adjust the suspension’s anti-squat and anti-dive geometry and ensure the ride remains solid and sporty at lower frequency inputs and a smooth and comfortable drive at higher frequencies.


Having tested vehicles equipped with Korean- and European-market ride tuning, the team settled on a bespoke setting that balanced comfort and sportiness.  


“Even though it may live 60 to 70 per cent of its life in urban centres, the EV6 would definitely be required to traverse rough country roads when owners undertake weekend trips and have extended getaways,” said Mr Rivero.


For this reason, it was critical that the new model had undergone Kia Australia’s rigorous ride and handling program in regional Victoria.


More than 90 per cent of the Kia dealer network is currently set up to sell and service the EV6 and the company intends to have that percentage up to 100 per cent as soon as possible.


The EV6, which will compete with products such as the Ioniq 5, Genesis GV60 and Tesla Model Y, will be launched in Australia with a 77.4kWh battery pack and in base and GT-Line grades (the latter will be available in rear- or all-wheel drive guises).


The 168kW RWD versions are said to have an optimal range of 527km, while the AWD derivative produces a peak output of 239kW (courtesy of being equipped with an additional motor at the front), has a stated range of 505km and is claimed to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds.  


When the high-performance performance GT version follows in late 2022 or early 2023, it will mark the local debut of the Kia’s most powerful and fastest-accelerating model, utilising a quartet of electric motors (also combined with the 77.4kWh battery) to produce 430kW and 740Nm.


It is claimed to have a zero to 100 km/h time of only 3.5 seconds.


Further details on local specifications for the EV6 will be announced in January during the Australian Open, of which the Kia brand has been a major partner for the past 20 years.


The official launch of Kia’s EV6 base and GT-Line derivatives scheduled for later in quarter one.


“The EV6 will appeal to a wide range of buyers and will bring new customers to the brand,” said Mr Rivero.


“In the next twelve months, with the imminent arrival of the EV6, Sorento Hybrid, next-generation Niro and later, the performance EV6 GT variant, Kia will well and truly be making its mark on the electric vehicle offering available in Australia.”


As for which types of dedicated battery-electric EV-series models would come to Australia after the EV6, Mr Rivero said that medium and light SUVs were at the top of Kia Australia’s wish list, because they would “bring the EV experience to a much wider range of buyers”.

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