This Kia EV9 GT-Line shows how cars will start talking to us more

When it first happened, I was a little surprised.

I plugged in the charger for the 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line, an electric sport utility vehicle that looks like it was dropped to the planet from the future. Living the connected life is new to me, at least in terms of cars. You have to think a bit more about when you will charge, how you will charge, and when. It requires a little more planning to save the planet.

During my test of the EV9, I had plenty of opportunities to try different chargers in my area, but the first time was just in my own garage. Once connected, the car announced to me — charging started. After so many years of car testing and reviewing other products, it’s always a bit startling to discover something new, although it’s possible other electrics do this.

The reason it caught me by surprise this time is that I wasn’t expecting it but also because it points to a future where we will be dialoguing with technology a lot more than we are now. We’ve been talking to bots for many years, starting with Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa. The EV9 is different. The voice is outside of the car, for everyone else to hear.

When you disconnect, the car also announces that charging has stopped. As usual, I kept thinking of other ways cars could talk. One way is just with pedestrians. In certain situations, I imagined future cars being able to announce to people passing by that the car is going to be backing up. That will be important as cars become more and more silent — no engine rumble or exhaust sound. Cars can already detect humans passing in front, but this scenario would involve detecting where they are all around the vehicle and how speaking to them verbally would be a benefit — the car would have to know who is there, which direction they are traveling, their speed, if there are kids present, etc. I could see this happening within a few short years.

Another possibility with verbally alerting people — I could see future cars conversing with us in the garage, more than just announcing the charge state. “EV9, please pull out of the driveaway” is going to be a viable command soon. “John, do you think you should charge up for your commute tomorrow” is also viable, especially once an AI knows where I drive each day.

This verbal communication will also not require a phone, and I’m looking forward to that day. The car will be a replacement for a phone. We’ll be able to talk to it from the outside like we do on the inside. We can ask about the current charge state, any maintenance needs, how far it is to drive to a party across town, and other conversational requests.

For now, each time I found a charger — in a downtown area, at a grocery store and a library, etc. the EV9 would announce that it was charging or that it was done charging. It was fun to imagine how this could advance just a bit in a future model. The voice that announces the charge state sounds like a cross between Siri and Alexa to me, but different enough that I didn’t think it was either. In fact, the distinctive voice made me a little more assured that charging was working.

What’s next after this? I wanted to be able to tell the EV9 to stop charging and resume at night for an overnight charge. Maybe that is an upgrade we’ll see soon.