During this decade, Kia will be electrifying its whole line-up as it aims to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the company’s value chain by 2045. Its popular SUV range is already partially electrified with some models having hybrid powertrains, and in due course, fully electric powertrains will be used.
Today, the Telluride is the biggest SUV that the Korean carmaker offers and the fully electric successor could look like the Concept EV9 which is on display at the Automobility LA motorshow in Los Angeles this weekend. The Concept EV9 follows the EV6 in Kia’s BEV (battery electric vehicle) range that will continue to grow with one new model each year.
Platform optimised for EVs
Like the EV6, the Concept EV9 uses the Hyundai Motor Group’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) which is developed and optimised for BEVs. This means that the advantages of an electric powertrain can be fully utilised, compared to other platforms which have been designed for conventional combustion engine powertrains as well.
The design of the vehicle was inspired by nature with striking visual aesthetics derived from Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy. The design team was especially influenced by the ‘Bold for Nature’ pillar of ‘Opposites United’, hence the bold form meshing logical and emotional qualities with informal, rugged features and styling cues.
Tiger Face goes digital
The ‘Tiger Face’ has been used in every Kia model since 2007 and has constantly evolved. This iconic feature will continue into the BEV era and is reinterpreted appropriately on the Concept EV9. With no need for a traditional grille to let air flow in, the space houses an intricate star cloud pattern display that is completely hidden behind the body when not in use. Sequential patterns create a ‘welcome light’ for the driver and also function to appropriately position lights during driving.
The opportunities afforded with a re-styled grille and the Digital Tiger Face have resulted in a new air vent design that reduces the frontal mass of the vehicle and greatly improves aerodynamics.
Measuring 4930 mm in length, 2055 mm in width and 1790 mm height, the proportions of the vehicle outline a 3-row SUV interior. Mirroring the exterior design, the interior of the Concept EV9 offers the driver and passengers a transformative interior space. It is a comparable to a first-class lounge with a panoramic roof complementing the large glazing to give a sense of lightness and being in contact with the environment.
Three interior modes
With a spacious 3.1-metre long wheelbase, the interior can be configured in 3 modes that capture different journey situations and requirements. Active Mode is when the Concept EV9 is on the move, making sure the driver and passengers have an optimal driving experience from within the all-electric SUV. The two other modes relate to when the Concept EV9 is not moving.
Pause Mode modifies the interior space to be more akin to a first-class lounge, giving occupants the opportunity to directly interact with each other while benefiting from the light streaming in from above. In this mode, the seats switch around to enable occupants seated in the first row and third row to face each other. The second-row seats fold down and become a table, completing the lounge arrangement.
The second stationary mode is Enjoy Mode, which opens the interior into a downtime breakout space by turning around the 3-row seat configuration. In this mode, the tailgate opens, giving all occupants the opportunity to connect with the outside environment and gaze ahead and beyond the vehicle while sitting comfortable inside.
A sense of ‘tomorrow’ can be seen in the steering wheel. The automotive industry today treats the steering wheel like a separate product, like a total standalone subsystem. In the the Concept EV9, however, this element takes a radically different approach in which the pop-up steering pad is an extension of – and integrated and harmonized within – the interior space.
An interactive 27-inch ultra-wide display connects the Concept EV9 from the real-world to the virtual one, while serving as the nerve centre for all driver and passenger requirements, including media, climate control and comfort functionality features.
Details of the powertrain are not extensive and Kia says that it has a range of up to 480 kms. It is fitted with next-generation ultra-fast charging technology that uses a 350-kW charger for ‘refuelling’ the battery pack from 10% to 80% in 20 – 30 minutes.
The bonnet vent duct area is utilized as a solar panel that helps recuperate some of the electric energy for the vehicle. This gives owners an alternative source of energy when they are not close to a charging station.