It’s hard to get excited about new vehicle launches these days. Assuming you can find in-demand models on a dealer’s lot, many stores add thousands of dollars to the bottom line in markups, accessories, and other fees. The practice has tarnished the release of otherwise great cars like the Toyota GR Corolla and Honda Civic Type R, but it’s also impacting mainstream, non-performance cars like three-row SUVs and hybrids. Kia is preparing to release the new three-row EV9 and is taking a proactive approach to prevent dealer markups.
The automaker sent a letter to its dealers earlier this week, saying that “the EV9 customer is an important new owner to the Kia brand, and price transparency will be paramount as part of their purchase experience. We ask dealers to retail the EV9 without markup over the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price.”
Kia asked nicely, but it doesn’t have a ton of options to force dealers to sell the SUV at MSRP. The Kia Telluride and other popular models have long had markups due to strong demand and limited supply during the pandemic. Ford made a similar move last year, warning dealers not to mark up the F-150 Lightning, but it’s unclear if any legal or other actions have been taken against the stores that didn’t listen.
Kia has already been through this process with the release of the EV6 in late 2022. Dealers immediately slapped markups on the futuristic EV, with some reaching as much as $20,000 over the base MSRP. Since then, buyers haven’t been so keen to spend top-dollar for the EV6, especially when other automakers’ EVs qualify for federal tax credits and Kia’s do not. While it will eventually move production to gain access to the credits, Kia isn’t looking to complicate the EV9 launch, and it cannot afford to have dealers fiddling with pricing and driving buyers away. That said, dealers often do whatever they want, so it will be interesting to see how and if markups show up.