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Kia Electric Truck Spied Testing in America

A little over a year ago, Kia announced plans to launch two electric trucks by 2027. One of them has seemingly been spotted undergoing testing in California while wearing bulky camouflage. It’s not the recently announced Tasman since that one looks different and will have a combustion engine, at least initially. We’re certainly dealing with a test mule since it uses parts from other models.

Although heavily disguised, we do notice that the truck has the EV9’s headlights and mirrors along with the Hyundai Santa Cruz’s taillights. The pillars for the side mirrors are mounted slightly lower on the doors whereas on the Tasman they’re at the base of the A-pillars. Another difference we can spot is the rounded wheel arches instead of the Tasman’s more angular design. In addition, this mysterious electric truck appears to have flush door handles.

Both trucks have a double cab body style with relatively small cargo beds and a six-lug nut setup. Much like the Tasman caught recently in the United States, this electric pickup is carrying Michigan plates. What else? The orange side markers in the headlights indicate that we’re dealing with a US-spec vehicle. It appears to have an EV9-esque blue front bumper, but the rest of the truck is gray, except for the white mirrors and red tow hook covers.

Since this appears to be a test mule, the market launch is unlikely to happen until 2026. It’s unclear whether this is a truck-ified EV9 or a separate model. The Tasman coming next year to select regions with a turbodiesel engine will ride on a body-on-frame platform. Kia released a video a few weeks ago about how it designs vehicles. At one point, several pickups were hiding underneath a red cover, as seen below.

When the announcement was made in March 2022 about two electric trucks, Kia said one would be a “dedicated” model and the other a “strategic” vehicle for emerging markets. The Tasman is likely the latter since an EV derivative is expected to follow later this decade. What puzzles us is that Kia is testing the Tasman in the US even though it hasn’t been confirmed for North America, at least not yet.

Whatever the case may be, it sure looks like Kia is planning to launch at least one truck in North America in the years to come. Ideally, it’ll be built here. Otherwise, it’s going to be subjected to the Chicken Tax, a 25-percent tariff on imported light trucks dating back to 1964.

Should it be manufactured elsewhere, it won’t qualify for the $7,500 tax credit for those buying it outright rather than leasing. The EV9 will be made at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia from this month, meaning it’ll qualify for the full discount. However, that won’t happen right away. The tax credit should kick in at some point next year when the battery pack is going to be built at a plant in Savannah, Georgia.

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