The Los Angeles Auto Show doesn’t open to the public until Friday, but Wednesday and Thursday are press days, or the days when automakers show off some of their new wares. Kia’s there, too, with this boxy-, angular-looking thing, which it is calling the EV9 Concept. This might be, in a few years, what you get when you currently think “Telluride.”
Both the EV9 Concept and the Hyundai’s Seven concept share the same platform, called e-GMP, which forms the base of the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 as well. Kia says the EV9 Concept has a range of “up to” 300 miles, though I’m sure the production version of this car will have an actual range that is slightly different.
Regardless, this is where Kia is headed styling-wise and design-wise, and, to no one’s surprise, a lot of it is about aerodynamics, because Kia says this thing is more aerodynamic than it perhaps looks.
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.
The hood vent duct area is utilized as a solar panel that helps recuperate some of the electric energy that the Concept EV9 uses. This gives BEV owners an alternative source of energy when they are not close to a charging station.
Further enhancing aero efficiency are retractable roof rails that close inward into the roof of the Concept EV9 when not in use, creating smooth airflow over the vehicle. When needed, the roof rails can be raised by a simple touch of a button, further emphasizing the all-action and all-go nature of the Concept EV9. A next-gen camera monitoring system that replaces the conventional wing mirrors further improves aerodynamic properties while also enhancing the spatial awareness of the driver.
The wheels, with those flat sections, are a part of it too. Expect to see a lot of wheels look like this on EVs, as it is not a secret how to improve aero with wheels, the differences will only be in how automakers choose to do it.
The machined 22-inch wheels further add to the geometric appearance and robust nature of the Concept EV9. A triangular aero design piece controls the airflow around the wheel and creates a visual contrast to the circular nature of the wheel to fully express the Opposites United design philosophy, making sure a balance in harmony extends into every element and section.
Some stats, meanwhile, which show that the EV9 Concept is roughly the size of a Telluride.
Concept EV9 measures 194 inches in length, 81 inches in width, 70 inches in height and has a wheelbase of 122 inches. The concept also combines its stunning SUV form with state-of-the-art engineering. The all-electric SUV delivers driving range of up to 300 miles. It also features next-generation ultra-fast charging technology with a 350-kW charger that allows its advanced battery electric powertrain to replenish energy from 10% to 80% in 20-30 minutes.
Which brings us to the interior, which, like on the Hyundai Seven concept, has been made more configurable, and perhaps assumes that, by the time a version of this is actually in production, autonomous technologies will be at the point where a configuration like the one in the center makes sense while moving. Even if not, Kia says the different configurations would still be useful stopped. You know, for overlanding or such.
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 the wide panoramic roof. 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 first-class lounge arrangement.
The second stationary mode is Enjoy Mode, which opens the interior into a downtime breakout space by turning around the three-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 the all-electric SUV.
The production EV9 is expected to be available in 2024, and I’m sure the design and styling will be tweaked in the meantime. I’m also not sure how good the car looks, though three-row SUVs aren’t really about that. The biggest thing wrong with it, and the one thing people will talk about, in any case, is this, which Kia incorrectly calls a “steering wheel”:
That is a yoke if I’ve ever seen one, which would be fine if Kia only intended this car to be used on drag strips, but, obviously, they don’t. There are Tesla things that are definitely worth imitating (not wasting money on marketing and direct sales are two big ones), but the yoke is not one of them. I would be more charged up about this particular yoke except I would also be shocked if it made it to production. If only there was some commonly understood adage about not reinventing the wheel...