Kia utes to pack high performance EV drivetrains


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Kia’s new electric utes to bring hot performance GT versions and different styles for different markets.

Kia’s announcement earlier this month that the Korean car maker is expanding its electric model line-up came with the confirmation that there will be two new utes. To some extent, it’s a long-time coming given Kia Australia’s previous statements over the years that a ute would be launched, but it’s also a long way from being the diesel dual-cab ute expected.

While that may still come (Automotive News reports Kia is “exploring the possibility of a global body-on-frame pick-up, likely in the mid-size segment”), we know for certain that there will be two distinct pick-ups based on electric vehicle underpinnings. Both will launch in 2026, alongside 12 other new EV models to come by 2027.

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One of the utes is a bespoke electric ‘truck’, the other a “strategic model for emerging markets”. Kia remains a bit unclear on what that means, exactly.

The electric truck will be a larger ute suited for America and could be similar to the upcoming EV9, based on the concept car. The production version of the large Kia EV9 SUV will come in 2023, with a 0-100km/h time of 5.0secs and a driving range of 540km.

What’s more, Kia has confirmed that it plans for all future bespoke EVs to follow the Kia EV6 in gaining a GT-badged performance range-topper. It promises that these hot EVs will have “differentiated” designs from their standard counterparts, meaning there should be two performance versions of the utes coming, albeit EV-only.

Imagining that at least the larger ute could be based around the EV9, we’ve rendered what it might look like above. The EV9 will be the first Kia model to come equipped with over-the-air update functionality and feature-on-demand (FoD) services, whereby customers can activate optional upgrades via the infotainment system in addition to the equipment fitted as standard. This will open up a significant new revenue stream for Kia, while boosting manufacturing efficiencies by allowing for more standardised equipment levels off the production line.

It will also pioneer Kia’s ‘AutoMode’ autonomous driving software, details of which remain under wraps. It is likely that this, like sibling brand Hyundai’s future autonomous models, will bring level 3 autonomy for hands-off driving on certain roads.

Kia said in its announcement that it plans to launch the utes in 2026, but it is a long way from confirming if one or the other (or both) are coming to Australia.

Alex Rae

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