Automotive

Kia takes a glimpse at boxy, hard-edged electric SUV future

Kia takes a glimpse at boxy, h...
Kia debuts the Concept EV9 at the 2021 LA Auto Show
Kia debuts the Concept EV9 at the 2021 LA Auto Show
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The Concept EV9 has some serious geometry going on around the wheels
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The Concept EV9 has some serious geometry going on around the wheels
Kia translates "tiger nose" into electric design language
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Kia translates "tiger nose" into electric design language
Inside, the light, bright motif is dominated by floating surfaces and ambient lighting
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Inside, the light, bright motif is dominated by floating surfaces and ambient lighting
The three seating rows are surrounded by glass for a close connection to the outdoors
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The three seating rows are surrounded by glass for a close connection to the outdoors
The Concept EV9's ultra-wide screen serves up information and control
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The Concept EV9's ultra-wide screen serves up information and control
Kia explores a classic two-box SUV for the electric future
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Kia explores a classic two-box SUV for the electric future
Kia gives the Concept EV9 very strong vertical and horizontal lines and angular side volumes
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Kia gives the Concept EV9 very strong vertical and horizontal lines and angular side volumes
The Concept EV9 has a unique solid grille
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The Concept EV9 has a unique solid grille that serves as a lighting surface
A close-up of the Kia Concept EV9's face
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A close-up of the Kia Concept EV9's face
Kia doesn't give any powertrain specifications but says the Concept EV9 could travel roughly 300 miles per charge
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Kia doesn't give any powertrain specifications but says the Concept EV9 could travel roughly 300 miles per charge
The three modes of the Concept EV9
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The three modes of the Concept EV9
Early Concept EV9 renderings
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Early Concept EV9 renderings
The Concept EV9's daytime running lamps frame the adjustable digital light display
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The Concept EV9's daytime running lamps frame the adjustable digital light display
What type of design study would be complete without the loss of B pillars and addition of coach doors?
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What type of design study would be complete without the loss of B pillars and addition of coach doors?
Kia debuted the Concept EV9 at this week's LA Auto Show
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Kia debuted the Concept EV9 at this week's LA Auto Show
Kia debuts the Concept EV9 at the 2021 LA Auto Show
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Kia debuts the Concept EV9 at the 2021 LA Auto Show
Kia Concept EV9
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Kia Concept EV9
The Concept EV9 is based on the E-GMP platform
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The Concept EV9 is based on the E-GMP platform
View gallery - 18 images

The utility vehicle market has gone all in on the small, curvy crossover look, but some customers still crave large dimensions, hard corners and vertical surfaces. Kia has already found some success with the formula in the Telluride, and if the new Concept EV9 is a guide, it has no plans of shying away from it as electricity takes over for internal combustion. With powerful surfaces, flared fenders and three rows of seating, the EV9 looks like a futuristic, all-electric interpretation of a Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series, a win for lovers of large, rumbling, back-to-roots utility vehicles.

The Concept EV9 is much more a design study than a production preview, but the LA-debuted SUV concept is billed as the "clearest signal yet from Kia as to what might be the next addition to its new-generation EV lineup," a potential first sibling for the EV6 crossover. Kia says that the EV9 concept rides atop the same Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) that underpins the EV6. However, the new concept comes with a very limited selection of spec estimates that includes a 300-mile (483-km) range and a roughly 25-minute 10-to-80 percent 350-kW ultra-fast-charging time.

As a design study, the 194-in (493-cm) Concept EV9 folds inspiration from nature into Kia's new "Opposites United" design language. Kia explains that the rugged, upright stance is meant to convey an adventurous, outgoing and recreational spirit. The level floating roof and long, flat glasshouse stand at the top of the classic, powerful proportions, hinting at a generous amount of passenger and cargo space inside. Along the sides, Kia adds some three-dimensional volume, but in place of softening curves, it maintains hard lines and surfaces with bulging, crystalline-inspired fenders highlighted by contrast wheel arches.

Kia gives the Concept EV9 very strong vertical and horizontal lines and angular side volumes
Kia gives the Concept EV9 very strong vertical and horizontal lines and angular side volumes

All those hard, angular elements "unite with their opposites" in the choice of paint color, a deep blue that brings to mind the smooth, angle-free flow of water. It's as if Kia shaped clean, sparkling water into the rough, jagged form of a boulder.

Up front, Kia focuses in on an all-electric iteration of its signature tiger-nose grille, a body-color "Digital Tiger Face" panel that stretches the full width between the left and right daytime running lamps. The grille panel also serves as a playing surface for the star cloud-patterned lighting housed behind it, showing "welcome" patterns when the driver approaches, before the lighting refocuses for driving.

The Concept EV9 has a unique solid grille
The Concept EV9 has a unique solid grille that serves as a lighting surface

The Concept EV9 uses some next-gen tech to boost efficiency, starting with a solar panel integrated into the hood vent duct. The roof rails can be retracted at the push of a button when not needed, improving airflow up high.

The interior of Kia's newest concept rolls its flat EV floor, light seating, glass-ceiling-topped panorama and light, neutral colors into a bright, roomy lounge-style space. While it's not a Level 5 autonomous concept, the EV9 does share the feature of revolving front-row seats with such designs, a function only accessible when the vehicle is parked. This "Pause" mode allows the first- and third-row occupants to face each other and converse while the second-row seats fold down into a table, a mode that would be even more useful on an electric camper vehicle than an SUV.

The three seating rows are surrounded by glass for a close connection to the outdoors
The three seating rows are surrounded by glass for a close connection to the outdoors

Another mode begging to be integrated into a camper van, "Enjoy" mode spins the seats 180, turning the opening left by the popped tailgate into something of a natural viewing screen. Undoubtedly inspired by the bottomless Instagram stack of photos showing van lifers staring dreamily out the thrown-open double van doors, this mode will work especially well when the EV9 is backed up in view of the lapping waves of the ocean or exploding sunset beyond a cliff's edge.

The three modes of the Concept EV9
The three modes of the Concept EV9

The third and last mode is your basic drive mode, which puts a "pop-up steering pad" in the hands of the driver, in place of the oh-so-average steering wheel. The massive 27-in ultra-wide display shows infotainment and houses basic controls.

Kia doesn't say when a diluted, production-ready version of the EV9 might join the EV6, but it reiterates multiple times that the EV9 could in fact be the next addition to its BEV lineup, another step toward its recently outlined goal of achieving carbon neutrality in its value chain by 2045.

Source: Kia

View gallery - 18 images
4 comments
4 comments
DaveWesely
Even though this is a concept vehicle, the style could sell as a production vehicle. Nice lines. Just curious as to when we will start moving away from the large, view obstructing, pedestrian killing, front ends. EVs don't need a large engine compartment.
Daishi
A simple EV like this that sticks to the basics (no flashy doors, some controls still manual, no FSD, doesn't need 700 HP, regular steering wheel etc.) could find market appeal. It would be cool to see an EV stick to the "lower maintenance with fewer mechanical parts" mantra by not also bundling in tons of unceesscesarty gadgets. It would be a bit like a smaller less expensive answer to the Model X which is currently dead last on the consumer reports customer reliability study with a score of 5 out of 100.
Rhys Davies
This looks like a near-production concept. Skoda should take some clues and reintroduce an electrified Yeti, likewise Land Rover could produce a mass-market smaller electric defender.
Demosthenes
The desdign is nothing less than terrible ...