Kia is giving us a look at its future electric vehicle strategy with the EV9 concept it unveiled today at the Los Angeles auto show.
Taken together with the brand’s first dedicated production BEV model — the EV6 hatchback set to go on sale in spring 2022 — the EV9 concept suggests Kia is serious about building its lineup around electric power. The EV9 concept rides on the same E-GMP platform as the EV6, but takes the form of a mid-size SUV with three rows of seats.
It’s not hard to see the EV9 as an electric counterpart to Kia’s current SUV flagship, the Telluride: with its 4,930-mm length, 2,055-mm width, 3,100-mm wheelbase, and standing 1,790 mm tall, the EV9’s dimensions are close to those of the Telluride in every direction.
Setting the EV9 apart is an electric powertrain that promises up to 300 miles (about 480 km) of driving range from a battery that will charge from 10 to 80 per cent in 20 to 30 minutes.
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As with many of the Hyundai Motor Group’s recent designs, the EV9 makes effective use of exterior lighting. There are vertical LED daytime running lights front and rear, and a star cloud lighting pattern that appears in place of a grille when the car is turned on and is hidden after the car is shut down. There’s also a solar panel built into the hood that can help charge the battery.
Inside the EV9 concept’s clamshell-style doors is a 27-inch dash display that driver and front passenger can use to control the car’s various functions; there are also touch-sensitive buttons on the dash below that large screen. We think both of those features are more likely to survive the transition from concept to production than the rectangular steering wheel.
The Kia EV9 also shows a three-mode reconfigurable cabin, an idea we’ve seen in concepts before but one we can’t recall having made it into a production model. The first of the three is an active mode optimized for when the EV9 is in motion. Once parked, a “pause” mode spins the front seats around to face the rear and turns the middle row into a table; and “enjoy” mode turns the third row toward the rear and opens the tailgate to create a semi-outdoor lounge space.
Kia says it used a number of recycled materials to create the EV9’s cabin, like fishnets for the flooring, seat upholstery made from plastic bottles and wool fibres. The EV9’s use of vegan leather also signals the brand’s intent to phase out the use of real animal leather in its vehicle lineup.