Kia has huge ambitions to expand its range of electric cars in the future – and that will include offering the production version of its huge Concept EV9 SUV in the UK in 2023.
If you're not keeping score, Kia is planning to launch 14 new EVs by 2030, including a huge expansion of its EV-badged range that began with the recent EV6.
The Concept EV9 was first revealed at the Los Angeles motor show last year and was designed to showcase the Korean firm’s vision of a large SUV for the electric era. It’s the second car Kia has shown that uses the Hyundai Motor Group’s electric E-GMP platform, following the excellent EV6.
What is the Kia EV9?
So what exactly is the Concept EV9? Well, as the name pretty much gives away, it’s a concept car that closely previews a future SUV that will be named the EV9. Kia is using the no-nonsense EV naming strategy for all its electric E-GMP models, and the fact that this one is called the EV9 should tell you that it’s pretty big.
The EV9 is effectively geared towards the US market, where large SUVs that dwarf most machines you’d find on the road in the UK are incredibly popular. And the sheer size of the EV9 led to questions of if Kia would offer it in the UK and Europe.
But they will, and having seen it up close at a Kia event recently, we’ve got, well, big hopes for it. If anything, the Concept EV9 is actually bigger than it looks in pictures. At 4930mm long and using a specially stretched version of the E-GMP platform, it’s fully 245mm longer than the EV6. In fact, it’s roughly the same length as the Kia Telluride, the firm’s largest American SUV which the firm doesn’t offer in the UK.
Basically, the production EV9 is going to offer acres of internal space, but you’ll want to pick your parking spots carefully. But while the size of the EV9 is particularly notable, it’s not the most significant thing about the car.
How the EV9 will help change perceptions of Kia
Kia has been moving steadily upmarket in recent years, and the EV6 has further transformed its reputation that can set standards. But the EV9 presents yet another leap, revealing Kia’s ambition to take on manufacturers of premium EVs. It’s a brand-building halo car with which Kia is aiming to win over owners of Range Rovers, Audis and other large premium SUVs.
The styling of the Concept EV9 is intended to appeal to that audience. There’s no real family resemblance with the EV6 here, which Kia’s European design chief Gregory Guillaume told Move Electric is entirely by design: “We’ve never done cookie cutter design at Kia, and that will continue in the future. We always try to make sure we show that they belong to the same family of vehicles, but we want to give each machine its own sense of character.”
The standout design element of the big, boxy machine is the ‘Digital Tiger Face’ front end. Instead of an engine grille, Kia has given the big front panel of the machine a ‘cloud pattern’ display, which features built-in lights that can be display a variety of patterns, but are completely invisible when not in use.
““It has really solid styling and an upright stance, while is very unusual for electric cars,” added Guillaume. “It’s very adventurous and outgoing, with inspiration from more rugged vehicles. It’s quite unusual for an EV, because usually the focus is on aerodynamics, but we were able to make it quite efficient as well.”
The concept features a hooded vent duct with a built-in solar panel, and there are front air vents designed to boost airflow and aerodynamically sculpted and retractable roof rails. While some of those features are unlikely to make the leap from concept to production car, expect the EV9’s basic styling to be closely retained by the production version.
One design element incredibly unlikely to make production is the complete lack of central B-pillars between the front and backwards-opening rear doors. Still, on the concept they allow an incredible view into the EV9’s cavernous interior. With a wheelbase of 3100mm there’s plenty of space in there, and Kia has used that to showcase a series of far more conceptual features for the seven-seater.
That means the dashboard features a 27in ultra-wide digital touchscreen display and a ‘pop-up steering pad’ in place of the steering wheel. The front seats are far thinner than regular car seats and can be set in three modes, including a Pause Mode that spins them round to face the rear passengers.
Then there’s Enjoy Mode,i in which all three rows of seats spin round and the rear boot opens entirely. It’s perfect for your next drive-in movie night. Although, again, unlikely to be an option come the start of production in 2023.
Technical details of the EV9
As yet, Kia has not given any firm technical details of the production EV9, although as with other E-GMP models it will be offered with a twin-motor, all-wheel-drive powertrain. It would be possible to offer with a single motor driving the rear wheels, although it is unknown if Kia would offer a car of that size.
Move Electric understands that the stretched version of the E-GMP platform the EV9 uses can house a bigger battery than the 77.4kWh unit used by the EV6. Expect a unit that exceeds 100kWh in size, which should give the EV9 a range far in excess of 300 miles.
The production version of the Concept EV9 will be the firm’s first model offered with its ‘Automode’ autonomous driving technology, and will also be designed to utilise both over-the-air updates and feature-on-demand (FOD). That will allow owners to buy extra features and functions using the in-car connectivity.
Kia is aiming for FOD to become a key part of its business model in the future, potentially allowing for cars to be sold in fewer variants, with owners then buying the specific functions they want.
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