Monday, November 29, 2021

Kia’s EV9 concept car is a big, boxy vision of our electric future

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Kia revealed the EV9 SUV, an extra-large concept EV with Soul-like angularity and an estimated range of up to 300 miles. Like the previously unveiled EV6, the EV9 will be built on Hyundai’s new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) that the automaker says will serve as the basis for an entire family of planned EVs. The concept made its debut at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The EV9 may have the angles of a Soul, but it has the body of a Telluride. The concept SUV measures 194 inches in length, 81 inches in width, 70 inches in height, and has a wheelbase of 122 inches. That’s taller, longer, and wider than the Kia Telluride and certainly would fall into the category of “dangerously huge SUVs” if it ever gets made.

With the automaker calling this the “clearest signal yet” as to what is coming from Kia’s future lineup of EVs, it’s a good bet that some version of the EV9 makes it into production.

E-GMP is Hyundai’s scalable electric architecture that underpins the upcoming Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Genesis GV60, as well as the recently unveiled (and equally ginormous) Hyundai Seven concept. Unlike the EV6’s refreshingly modest footprint, the EV9 seems primed to win over Telluride and Cadillac Escalade customers with its aggressive dimensions and copious interior space.

That means it’ll also have the same 800-volt architecture as those other EVs, allowing it to accept DC fast charging at speeds up to 350 kilowatts. Like the Hyundai Seven, Kia says the EV9’s battery can charge from 10–80 percent in 20 to 30 minutes.

The Kia EV9 sports a reinterpretation of the automaker’s nose grille, which it calls its “iconic Tiger Face facade.” Cars without dirty internal combustion engines don’t necessarily need a grille. But automakers are having a difficult time transitioning away from criteria built around the function and needs of an ICE and toward one without those same requirements.

Kia is going in the Tesla direction by getting rid of the traditional grille and opting for “a full body colored front that clearly conveys sustainability values.” In other words, it’s a virtue-signaling snout.

Despite its boxy shape, Kia said it was “inspired by water.” That wasn’t a reference to the shape, though, but rather the exterior and interior color pallet. Kia describes the exterior paint as mimicking the “expansive depth of the ocean,” while the interior color choices are as “clear blue” as the sky.

The interior is dominated by a 27-inch central touchscreen, which is about as wide as it gets in SUVs today. And the steering wheel, while not a full yoke like the Tesla Model S Plaid, is definitely more yoke-ish than a wheel. Kia calls it a “pop-up steering pad,” but it’s unclear from the renderings what purpose the shape serves.

Kia won’t confirm whether the EV9 will make it into production, but it seems highly likely, given the South Korean automaker’s commitment to release seven dedicated battery electrics by the end of 2027 and to sell half a million battery cars annually by 2026.



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