Kia to tout Georgia-built EV9 in Super Bowl ad

Automaker to advertise future West Point-built electric SUV during 60-second spot
The Kia EV9. Kia will use the biggest advertising event of the year to showcase its new flagship plug-in SUV, which will soon roll off assembly lines in Georgia.

Credit: Kia

Credit: Kia

The Kia EV9. Kia will use the biggest advertising event of the year to showcase its new flagship plug-in SUV, which will soon roll off assembly lines in Georgia.

Kia will use the biggest advertising event of the year to showcase its new flagship plug-in SUV, which will soon roll off assembly lines in Georgia.

The Korean automaker will air a minute-long commercial Sunday during Super Bowl LVIII that solely focuses on its three-row electric SUV called the EV9, which mirrors the company’s gas-powered Telluride model. The EV9, which hit American sales lots late last year, will soon be assembled at Kia’s West Point factory later in 2024 through a $200 million expansion that will add 200 jobs.

Kia is a Super Bowl advertising veteran, and Sunday will mark its 15th appearance during television’s most-watched annual event. The commercial, which won’t feature any of Kia’s gas-powered fleet, also comes amid growing concern that too many Americans remain hesitant to switch to electric vehicles — widely seen as the more eco-friendly future of the auto industry.

“There’s no bigger vehicle than a Super Bowl ad for bringing attention to a new product because of the ability to reach such a large potential audience,” said Ken Bernhardt, a Georgia State University marketing professor.

Kia’s recent Super Bowl spots have run the gamut with various tones and storylines. The company’s 2020 ad aimed to be motivational, telling the rags-to-riches tale of NFL running back Josh Jacobs as he drove a Kia Seltos. Last year’s commercial was light-hearted, with “Binky Dad” feverishly driving a Telluride home to retrieve his daughter’s misplaced pacifier. Kia even highlighted its plug-in EV6 crossover by using the EV to charge a robot dog that ran out of juice.

But Georgians likely remember Kia’s 2019 spot, which highlighted the company’s factory in West Point and touted it as an economic engine for the region. Located roughly 80 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta, the Kia plant has been the state’s sole automaker after the closures of factories from Ford and General Motors.

May 11, 2022 West Point - Aerial photo shows Kia Motors' US Assembly Plant in West Point on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Bernhardt said Kia will likely spend $14 million for its 60-second Super Bowl spot, so it’s important for its message to hit home with potential EV customers.

“The consistency Kia has had is a big advantage for them,” he said. “... The Super Bowl is just about the last thing left that can reach a (traditional) mass audience very effectively.”

Kia won’t be the only auto brand advertising during the game. Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW are among the other automakers to have confirmed Super Bowl commercials this year. Other companies with Georgia ties that expected to air ads during the game include Atlanta-based Coca-Cola’s Bodyarmor.

Credit: AJC

Kia released a teaser of its upcoming ad called “The Power Within” that shows a young figure skater illuminated by an EV9′s headlights. It’s accompanied by the tagline “Electric like you’ve never seen.”

Russell Wager, vice president of marketing at Kia America, said in a news release that the Super Bowl spot will “highlight the power we all possess — both literally and figuratively — to help make our dreams come true.”

This is a teaser image for Kia's 2024 Super Bowl advertisement called "The Power Within."

Credit: Courtesy of Kia America

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Credit: Courtesy of Kia America

Georgia has been undergoing what state leaders call a new industrial revolution through courting automakers, specifically the EV industry.

Kia’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, is building a $7.6 billion EV factory called Metaplant near Savannah, which is expected to produce 300,000 Hyundai, Genesis and Kia vehicles a year. It’s on schedule to begin production in late 2024 or early 2025. EV startup Rivian is also poised to soon begin vertical construction on its $5 billion EV factory an hour east of Atlanta. Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, owns about a 4% stake in Rivian.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office says the Peach State has attracted more than $25 billion in EV supply chain investments and commitments for more than 30,000 jobs since 2018. To entice companies, state and local governments have offered billions of dollars in incentives, while the federal government has injected billions into installing charging infrastructure and growing the EV industry.

Kia will begin manufacturing its EV9 model at its existing West Point factory in 2024.

Credit: Kia

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Credit: Kia

Automakers’ EV plans have hit some recent bumps in the road. Plug-in vehicle sales eclipsed 1 million for the first time last year, but domestic sales have not increased as quickly as many industry experts predicted.

Recent earnings calls and industry reports have revolved around waning consumer demand for EVs, with thousands of auto dealerships complaining that unsold EVs are clogging up their lots.

Cox Automotive, which is also owned by Cox Enterprises, reported that EVs made up 7.6% of the total share of vehicle sales during 2023, nearly a 29% increase from the prior year. But the last three months of the year saw EV sales increase at a slower pace than other recent quarters.

“The EV market in the U.S. is still growing, but not growing as fast,” Cox Automotive’s report said. The company’s analysts predict EV shares will reach 10% of all new auto sales this year.

“The momentum is there and is not going away,” the report concluded.


How to watch

Super Bowl LVIII will air Sunday on CBS starting at 6:30 p.m., featuring a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.

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