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Kia EV9 vs Tesla Model Y: The Electric SUV Showdown

Two of the most anticipated new electric vehicles set to hit the U.S. market are the Kia EV9 and Tesla Model Y SUVs. The Model Y is already available for purchase, while the EV9 is slated to arrive stateside in the second half of 2023.

Both promise spacious interiors, advanced technologies, and an eco-friendly driving experience. But which one comes out ahead? As an expert in digital technology and the EV industry, I‘ll provide an in-depth, data-driven comparison of these electric SUVs across key factors like performance, pricing, features and more.

Tale of the Tape: EV9 vs Model Y

First, let‘s examine some of the key specifications of these cutting-edge EVs:

Specification Kia EV9 Tesla Model Y
Price (est.) $56,000 – $73,000 $52,990 – $58,990
Range 220-336 miles 303-330 miles
0-60 mph 5.2-8.5 sec 3.5-4.8 sec
Battery 77-100 kWh 75 kWh
Peak Charging 350 kW 250 kW
Seats 6-7 5-7
Cargo Volume 91 cu ft (est.) 76 cu ft
Autonomous Driving Level 3 (coming soon) Level 2

The Kia EV9 will come in both Standard Range (220 miles) and Long Range (336 miles) versions, with the latter providing the most range of any non-Tesla EV SUV. The Long Range EV9‘s 100 kWh battery pack is also larger than the Model Y‘s 82 kWh pack.

However, the Model Y Performance boasts quicker acceleration, zipping from 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. Even the Long Range Model Y can do it in 4.8 seconds, at least a full second quicker than Kia‘s estimates for the quickest EV9.

Where the EV9 has a clear edge is interior space. At 197 inches long and 78 inches wide, it‘s notably larger than the 187" long, 76" wide Model Y. The EV9‘s 121.8" wheelbase is also 8" longer than the Model Y‘s.

Kia hasn‘t released final cargo volume specs, but based on the EV9‘s larger exterior dimensions, expect it to top the Model Y‘s 76 cubic foot max volume. Some sources estimate the EV9 will offer up to 91 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats folded.

Charging and Range

Both EVs utilize the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard for DC fast charging. The Kia EV9 supports charging speeds up to 350 kW, allowing it to charge from 10% to 80% in under 25 minutes. The Model Y maxes out at a still-respectable 250 kW, which can add up to 162 miles of range in 15 minutes according to Tesla.

For charging at home, the EV9 will come with a 10.9 kW onboard charger for Level 2 charging, while the Model Y has a 11.5 kW charger. Both allow for overnight charging from a 240V outlet, adding around 30-40 miles of range per hour.

The Model Y does have a significant advantage when it comes to public fast charging infrastructure. Tesla‘s proprietary Supercharger network has over 40,000 chargers globally and is known for high reliability and seamless user experience. Kia EV9 drivers will rely on third-party networks like Electrify America which, while rapidly expanding, aren‘t yet as comprehensive as Tesla‘s.

Autonomous Driving Tech

The EV9 is set to debut an all-new AutoMode autonomous driving system that Kia says will enable Level 3 hands-free capability in certain conditions. AutoMode utilizes an array of 15 cameras, radars and lidar sensors providing 360° monitoring around the vehicle.

Other touted features include auto lane change assist, auto parking, and remote smart parking assist, which allows the driver to park or summon the EV9 from outside the vehicle using a smartphone app.

Tesla‘s Model Y offers the Autopilot driver assistance system as standard, with features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist. For an additional $12,000, buyers can add Tesla‘s controversially named "Full Self-Driving" system with enhanced Autopilot, auto lane changes, auto parking, and traffic light recognition.

However, Tesla‘s system still requires driver attention at all times and is considered Level 2 under SAE criteria, while the EV9 aims to be one of the first Level 3 systems available in a non-luxury EV.

Pricing and Incentives

Official pricing for the Kia EV9 has not been released but is estimated to start around $56,000. High-end models could reach $73,000 or more. The Tesla Model Y currently starts at $52,990 for the Long Range and tops out at $58,990 for the Performance (not including any options or fees).

However, the EV9 will likely come with more standard features and technology as reflected in its higher base price. The larger dimensions of the EV9 suggest it will provide more interior space for people and cargo at a given price point compared to the Model Y.

Both EVs will be eligible for a $7500 federal tax credit under terms of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in August 2022. The IRA lifted the previous cap limiting the credit to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, which Tesla and GM had already exceeded.

However, the IRA added new constraints around battery component sourcing and manufacturing aimed at incentivizing U.S. EV production, likely in an effort to promote American jobs and reduce reliance on China.

The Model Y became eligible for the credit again earlier this year after Tesla moved some battery pack assembly to Nevada. Kia plans to begin manufacturing the EV9 in the U.S. starting in 2024, which would secure its eligibility as well. But the U.S. battery supply chain remains a work in progress.

EV Market Momentum

The EV9 vs Model Y face-off is set against the backdrop of booming EV sales. Led by Tesla‘s 1.3 million global deliveries, worldwide passenger EV sales more than doubled in 2022 to 7.8 million, according to research firm BloombergNEF. In the U.S., EV market share surged from 3.2% in 2021 to 5.8% last year.

Kia‘s corporate cousin Hyundai scored a big win with the Ioniq 5 crossover, which netted World Car of the Year honors. The Kia EV6 sport sedan has seen strong demand as well, with over 20,000 sold in the U.S. last year. With the larger EV9 SUV and upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 7, the Korean automakers aim to gain ground on Tesla.

Other new entries like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, Rivian R1S, and Nissan Ariya make clear that the EV SUV segment is the next major battleground as the industry shifts away from gas-powered vehicles.

The Verdict

Based on the available information, the Kia EV9 looks to be a very formidable challenger to the Tesla Model Y‘s reign as king of the electric SUVs. The EV9‘s larger dimensions, 3-row seating, and swiveling 2nd row seats offer compelling utility for families.

The EV9‘s targeted Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities may give it an edge over the Model Y‘s Level 2 system as well, though real-world testing will determine how it actually performs.

However, the Model Y‘s performance, Supercharger access, and brand cachet still can‘t be ignored. And while official pricing isn‘t available yet, the EV9 looks to be a bit costlier than the Model Y.

Ultimately, both electric SUVs bring a lot to the table and should sell very well. The Model Y sets a high bar, but the EV9 may have what it takes to surpass it in the eyes of many buyers.

As more models like these hit the market with ever-improving range, technology and value, mass adoption of EVs looks increasingly inevitable. BloombergNEF forecasts plugin vehicles will reach 28% of U.S. passenger car sales by 2030. An electric future has arrived.