- The Kia EV6 electric SUV offers one of the most innovative features in the automotive market.
- Owners can use it as a mobile power source to charge computers and plug in appliances.
- We tested the EV6’s power-sharing capability to see how it performs and if it’s useful.
New Yorkers don’t tend to frown when people cut their nails on the subway or the many other oddities of city life. But take your espresso machine and a toaster to a public park and plug them into the side of your SUV, and people start giving you weird looks.
But I didn’t do this to get attention. I did it for science.
Specifically, I did it to test out one of the most intriguing features offered on any new car today. You see, the 2022 Kia EV6, the Korean brand’s all-new electric SUV, doesn’t just use its massive battery to power itself down the road. Owners can tap into the SUV’s power reserves and use it as a giant, portable power source.
The idea is that you can drive your Kia anywhere, plug an included adapter into the charging port, and plug in whatever device your heart desires without sticking to the limitations of regular 12-volt car outlets. The EV6 can deliver 1,900 watts of juice, so mini-fridges, TVs, pressure cookers, microwaves, and even other electric cars are all fair game.
Kia showed off its abilities in a Super Bowl ad featuring an adorable robot dog in desperate need of a recharge. When Kia loaned me an EV6 last month, I tested the feature to understand how it works and see if it’s useful in the real world.
To address the first question first: it really couldn’t be simpler. Using the adapter was as simple as plugging it in, plugging my toaster’s plug into its socket, and letting the electrons flow by pressing a button on its face. You can clamp on a protective piece to protect the socket from the elements, or you can just leave this piece hanging down like I did.
It was the same deal with the Nespresso machine I brought. I plugged it in, let it heat up and started brewing. When it came time to pack, I freaked out a bit when I couldn’t figure out how to unlock the charging port adapter. Then I learned through a reluctant reading of the instruction manual that I had to unlock the vehicle first. That makes sense, as owners might like to leave something plugged in and walk away a bit.
And don’t worry that you’ll get caught toasting and making bean juice and find yourself without energy for the drive home. Toggle a setting on the car’s touchscreen and the EV6 will automatically shut down when its battery level drops below a certain point.
I enjoyed my hot espresso and avocado toast outdoors – in the company of a hedgehog, no less. And as I nibbled at the prospect of one day becoming an owner, I pondered what, if anything, this unique ability was actually good at. Clearly, the EV6’s power-sharing capability was designed with more in mind than artificial testing in a Manhattan parking lot.
Ford F-150 electric and hybrid pickups offer similar functionality, but this is clearly intended for trucks, like tailgating and power tools. The R1T, a van from EV startup Rivian, not only offers outlets, but a full kitchen setup that impressively slides in from a compartment behind the rear seats. It is intended for camping and other outdoor adventures.
It’s less obvious how one would use this capability in the EV6 (or its sister brand Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, which has the same functionality). Press photos from Hyundai show people using their cars to power a mobile office, which might be welcome in today’s anywhere working world, but it’s not exactly exciting.
When I started cooking with the EV6, I had big plans for an elaborate feast, cooked from scratch away from the conveniences of an apartment kitchen. Then I thought about all the clutter, all the appliances and ingredients lying around back and forth, and reconsidered. That is, there may be inherent limitations to the activities people wish to do while on the go.
Nonetheless, I’m confident that individuals and businesses will find interesting and convenient ways to use the EV6.
Street vendors and other mobile businesses that use gas-powered generators to keep their lights on would likely appreciate a quieter, less smelly alternative. In the event of a power outage, the EV6 could charge a laptop or help keep food cool. Families could use it to host an outdoor movie night or plan a car camping trip.
Have a hot espresso available at the push of a button in the woods? This might offend camping purists, but it sounds pretty cool to me.