Kia releases photographs of its first rear-wheel-drive fullsize luxury sedan, which will have its sales launch soon in South Korea.

Named the K9 in Korea, the all-new vehicle will have a distinctive name for export markets, a spokesman tells WardsAuto.

In preproduction stages at Kia’s Hwasung plant, the K9 was designed and developed at the Hyundai Kia Automotive Technical Center in Namyang, where Kia operates its own independent design studio.

The Hwasung complex in Gyeinggi province has its own proving ground and also manufactures the Optima, Spectra, Forte, Sportage and Carens models.

The K9 is based on the Hyundai Genesis platform. The spokesman does not confirm how much input the design may have received from Kia’s other principal design centers in Frankfurt and Irvine, CA.

“We cannot release technical details at this time but they will be forthcoming either ahead of or at the sales launch,” the spokesman says, adding a stand-alone sales launch and debut of the K9 is likely, as opposed to a global debut at the Busan Motor Show in May.

“Even if we decide to (reveal) it in the Busan show, there will be a special separate sales launch event.”

While it will compete directly with the Hyundai Equus, the spokesman declines to discuss the significant differences between the two vehicles prior to the K9’s sales launch. He says there are “high hopes” for the new vehicle in Korea, but cannot disclose sales projections.

Asked if the K9 is heading for the U.S., the spokesman says Kia Motors America is studying the market and the request will have to come from there.

The new model rounds out Kia’s K Series vehicles in Korea. The series includes the K5 and K7, called the Optima and Cadenza, respectively, in export markets.

Says Soon-Nam Lee, director-overseas marketing group, “K9 sets a whole new level of standards and values in the large-sedan segment, and its design will be another Kia demonstration of our brand’s power to surprise the world.”